Washington Territory Gold Rush
"Lawyer" of the Nez Perce
Black Hills Gold Rush
William Clark's Nez Perce Son
"From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”
(Chief Joseph, October 1877)
From the days of Columbus, European expansion was driven by stories of gold and silver waiting to be gathered up by energetic explorers. In the nineteenth century Americans often rushed to Native lands to claim their share of these rumored riches. Such episodes usually terrified local Indian communities because they attracted groups of young men who were traveling without families and were often prone to violence.
Among the most traumatic gold rushes in the nineteenth century was one triggered by the discovery of gold on lands the Nez Perces had reserved for themselves in their 1855 agreement with Governor Stevens. The invasion of their reservation set off disputes with young miners who were often unaware that they were trespassing on tribal property. Furthermore, there were arguments within the tribe over how best to respond to the crisis.