Selling Your Father's Bones: America's 140-Year War against the Nez Perce Tribe

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9781416539940: Selling Your Father's Bones: America's 140-Year War against the Nez Perce Tribe

An award-winning travel writer recounts the doomed exodus of the Nez Perce tribe, revealing the history of America's expansion.

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About the Author:

Brian Schofield is a travel and features writer whose work appears in The Sunday Times, GQ, The New Statesman, and Geographical magazine. In 2003 he was named Best British Travel Writer covering America. This is his first book, which has been shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for the best work by a UK writer aged thirty-five or under.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

As the sun glowed red across the grasslands, a group of children headed away from the village, through the willow trees, to squeeze a few more games from the fading daylight. The boys, mimicking their fathers, played with sticks and bones along the banks of the winding creek, their shrieks fading into the great expanse of the valley -- until a chill cut through the air, and it was time to light a fire. The gang gathered wood and huddled close to the flames. Then as an unfamiliar presence entered the circle of light, they fell to frozen silence. "Two men came there wrapped in gray blankets. They stood close, and we saw they were white men."

The youngsters bolted toward the village in a panic, but when they looked back, the men in the gray blankets had disappeared -- and they were soon forgotten as the games began again. Bedtime came, and the children lay down without sharing this unsettling sight with their elders.

That night, the village held a celebration, to mark a day of rest and calm, and good hunting among the dense herds of the grasslands. The seven hundred Nez Perce were many miles from home, they'd been traveling for almost two months to reach this riverbank, and they had still farther yet to travel -- but today, at least, they were at peace, and for that they gave thanks. The warriors paraded through the encampment, singing and drumming in the firelight, their blustering leader encouraging all to relax and enjoy the respite. Elsewhere a younger chief tended to his own responsibilities, for the young and the old of the camp, the frail and the enfeebled. It was past midnight when the carousing ended and the valley fell silent.

One hundred and eighty-three United States infantrymen crouched in the darkness and waited. The sleeping village was but a few hundred yards away, the embers of its fires still glowing, while the army shivered on the sloping meadow above, its discipline holding in the bleak, thin night: no cigarettes lit, no rifles dropped, not a sound. Hours passed. The dew soaked easily through the troopers' threadbare uniforms, tightening the vice of cold. One man struck a match and was slapped and shushed back into the darkness by the soldiers around him.

The sounds of dogs barking and babies crying drifted over the willows and rushes from the dozing village. Just before dawn, a few women emerged from their teepees to refuel the campfires, enjoy a brief gossip, and head back to their warm beds. And still the soldiers watched and waited.

At the very first graying of the sky, the troops began to move through the scrubland that lay between the high meadow and the riverbank, crouching and crawling forward, hiding behind the shallow rolls in the earth. A single line of men crept over the sodden ground -- then stopped dead. Across the creek, an elderly man had emerged yawning from his lodge, cheerfully accepting that his sleep was complete. Mounting his waiting horse, the elder set off slowly toward the sloping meadow, to check on the village's grazing herd. His eyes were beginning to wear with time, and he peered into the half-light as his horse forded the creek and strolled through the morning mist -- heading straight toward the waiting army.

Fear coursed through the troops as the lone rider wandered closer to their ranks, a hundred yards distance shading to fifty, then thirty, twenty -- and still the old man, blessed with a morning to himself, saw no sign of the long thin line of rifles trained upon him. Ahead, lost in the mist, hearts raced and nerves strained. A cluster of untrained men, callow volunteers, were wound tightest of all: The old man was riding straight for the cleft in the earth where the five lay. He was just ten yards away now. Still he rode on, humming into the lifting gloom. Huddled against the soil, the volunteers heard each footstep approach, battling to summon their courage and keep their senses. The gap closed, and closed, barely five yards now.

The young men, breathless with panic, snapped. Leaping to their feet, they raised their rifles. Across the glistening valley, the deer and the antelope, the buffalo and the coyotes scattered into the distance, away from the echoing crack of gunfire.Copyright © 2009 by Brian Schofield

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Part historical narrative, part travelogue, and part environmental plea, Selling Your Father s Bones recounts one of the most astonishing journeys in the history of the American West. The year 1877 bore witness to a broken promise. Joseph, chief of the peaceable Nez Perce band who made their home in Oregon s Wallowa Valley, had long sworn to uphold the dying words of his father: This country holds your father s body. Never sell the bones of your mother and your father. Yet, as the U.S. government confined the tribe to ever smaller reservations in favor of miners and ranchers in their westward sprawl, the fateful decision of several young Nez Perce warriors to attack the settlers set in motion an exodus from Joseph s ancestral home. For the next eleven weeks, seven hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children traveled 1,700 miles across inhospitable wilderness, engaging the chasing army in six battles and many more skirmishes, as they drove on in search of peace and freedom. Just forty miles from the Canadian border, the tribe survived a calamitous five-day siege until Joseph could no longer bear his people s suffering and surrendered. It is said that when he died, in 1904, the cause was a broken heart. Populated with the heroes and villains of a classic conflict, Selling Your Father s Bones intercuts the Nez Perce s fight for survival with the author s own travels across this very same terrain, the mountains, forests, badlands, and prairies of modern-day Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The imposing Bitterroot Mountains, the Lolo Pass (then and now among the toughest mountain crossings on the North American continent), and the great Montana buffalo plains retain their majesty. Yet, as Schofield reveals, ecological vandalism, unthinking corporate policies, and dubious political leadership have wrought scarred landscapes, battered communities, and toxic environments whose realities must be borne by the living descendants of both the Nez Perce warriors and the European settlers. As Schofield walks among the people who now occupy these sacred lands, he sees in the values of the Native American West -- love for homeland, for ancestry, and for Mother Nature -- a route to their, and our, salvation. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781416539940

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Part historical narrative, part travelogue, and part environmental plea, Selling Your Father s Bones recounts one of the most astonishing journeys in the history of the American West. The year 1877 bore witness to a broken promise. Joseph, chief of the peaceable Nez Perce band who made their home in Oregon s Wallowa Valley, had long sworn to uphold the dying words of his father: This country holds your father s body. Never sell the bones of your mother and your father. Yet, as the U.S. government confined the tribe to ever smaller reservations in favor of miners and ranchers in their westward sprawl, the fateful decision of several young Nez Perce warriors to attack the settlers set in motion an exodus from Joseph s ancestral home. For the next eleven weeks, seven hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children traveled 1,700 miles across inhospitable wilderness, engaging the chasing army in six battles and many more skirmishes, as they drove on in search of peace and freedom. Just forty miles from the Canadian border, the tribe survived a calamitous five-day siege until Joseph could no longer bear his people s suffering and surrendered. It is said that when he died, in 1904, the cause was a broken heart. Populated with the heroes and villains of a classic conflict, Selling Your Father s Bones intercuts the Nez Perce s fight for survival with the author s own travels across this very same terrain, the mountains, forests, badlands, and prairies of modern-day Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The imposing Bitterroot Mountains, the Lolo Pass (then and now among the toughest mountain crossings on the North American continent), and the great Montana buffalo plains retain their majesty. Yet, as Schofield reveals, ecological vandalism, unthinking corporate policies, and dubious political leadership have wrought scarred landscapes, battered communities, and toxic environments whose realities must be borne by the living descendants of both the Nez Perce warriors and the European settlers. As Schofield walks among the people who now occupy these sacred lands, he sees in the values of the Native American West -- love for homeland, for ancestry, and for Mother Nature -- a route to their, and our, salvation. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781416539940

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Book Description Simon & Schuster. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 368 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 5.9in. x 0.9in.Part historical narrative, part travelogue, and part environmental plea, Selling Your Fathers Bones recounts one of the most astonishing journeys in the history of the American West. The year 1877 bore witness to a broken promise. Joseph, chief of the peaceable Nez Perce band who made their home in Oregons Wallowa Valley, had long sworn to uphold the dying words of his father: This country holds your fathers body. Never sell the bones of your mother and your father. Yet, as the U. S. government confined the tribe to ever smaller reservations in favor of miners and ranchers in their westward sprawl, the fateful decision of several young Nez Perce warriors to attack the settlers set in motion an exodus from Josephs ancestral home. For the next eleven weeks, seven hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children traveled 1, 700 miles across inhospitable wilderness, engaging the chasing army in six battles and many more skirmishes, as they drove on in search of peace and freedom. Just forty miles from the Canadian border, the tribe survived a calamitous five-day siege until Joseph could no longer bear his peoples suffering and surrendered. It is said that when he died, in 1904, the cause was a broken heart. Populated with the heroes and villains of a classic conflict, Selling Your Fathers Bones intercuts the Nez Perces fight for survival with the authors own travels across this very same terrain, the mountains, forests, badlands, and prairies of modern-day Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The imposing Bitterroot Mountains, the Lolo Pass (then and now among the toughest mountain crossings on the North American continent), and the great Montana buffalo plains retain their majesty. Yet, as Schofield reveals, ecological vandalism, unthinking corporate policies, and dubious political leadership have wrought scarred landscapes, battered communities, and toxic environments whose realities must be borne by the living descendants of both the Nez Perce warriors and the European settlers. As Schofield walks among the people who now occupy these sacred lands, he sees in the values of the Native American West -- love for homeland, for ancestry, and for Mother Nature -- a route to their, and our, salvation. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781416539940

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Part historical narrative, part travelogue, and part environmental plea, Selling Your Father s Bones recounts one of the most astonishing journeys in the history of the American West. The year 1877 bore witness to a broken promise. Joseph, chief of the peaceable Nez Perce band who made their home in Oregon s Wallowa Valley, had long sworn to uphold the dying words of his father: This country holds your father s body. Never sell the bones of your mother and your father. Yet, as the U.S. government confined the tribe to ever smaller reservations in favor of miners and ranchers in their westward sprawl, the fateful decision of several young Nez Perce warriors to attack the settlers set in motion an exodus from Joseph s ancestral home. For the next eleven weeks, seven hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children traveled 1,700 miles across inhospitable wilderness, engaging the chasing army in six battles and many more skirmishes, as they drove on in search of peace and freedom. Just forty miles from the Canadian border, the tribe survived a calamitous five-day siege until Joseph could no longer bear his people s suffering and surrendered. It is said that when he died, in 1904, the cause was a broken heart. Populated with the heroes and villains of a classic conflict, Selling Your Father s Bones intercuts the Nez Perce s fight for survival with the author s own travels across this very same terrain, the mountains, forests, badlands, and prairies of modern-day Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The imposing Bitterroot Mountains, the Lolo Pass (then and now among the toughest mountain crossings on the North American continent), and the great Montana buffalo plains retain their majesty. Yet, as Schofield reveals, ecological vandalism, unthinking corporate policies, and dubious political leadership have wrought scarred landscapes, battered communities, and toxic environments whose realities must be borne by the living descendants of both the Nez Perce warriors and the European settlers. As Schofield walks among the people who now occupy these sacred lands, he sees in the values of the Native American West -- love for homeland, for ancestry, and for Mother Nature -- a route to their, and our, salvation. Bookseller Inventory # LIE9781416539940

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