Indians and Chinese Mistreatment
1) From Speech of Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé Indians, in Washington, D.C. (1879)
Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Percé Indians, led his people on a 1,700-mile trek through the Far West in 1877 in an unsuccessful effort to escape to Canada. Two years later, he addressed an audience in Washington, D.C., that included President Rutherford B. Hayes, appealing for the freedom and equal rights enshrined in the law after the Civil War.
2) From Letter by Saum Song Bo, American Missionary (October 1885)
During the 1880s, Chinese-Americans were subjected to discrimination in every phase of their lives. In 1882, Congress temporarily barred further immigration from China. In 1885, when funds were being raised to build a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, Saum Song Bo, a Chinese-American writer, contrasted the celebration of liberty
with the treatment of the Chinese.
1. What are Chief Joseph’s complaints about the treatment of his people?
2. Why does Saum Song Bo believe that the Chinese do not enjoy liberty in the United States?
3. What are the similarities and differences in the definition of freedom in the two documents?
What are Chief Joseph’s complaints about the treatment of his people?
Chief Joseph complains about the unequal treatment and the denial of freedom. His people are not given the privileges enjoyed by the white men. Despite the two races living in the same land, they are not governed by the same law (Joseph 1). The Nez Percé Indians do not have a similar opportunity, like the whites, to live and grow. The country which the Nez Percé Indians once owned has been overrun by the white people. The unequal treatment of the two races goes beyond the accordance of equal rights to cover unjustified killings of the Nez Percé Indians. Chief Joseph is also concerned about the denial of freedom to his people. Even though men who are born free ought not to be denied freedom, his people lack liberty in their own land. They are treated as outlaws, and the whites shoot them as they please. The issues raised by Chief Joseph were popular concerns in nations that were colonized. The Nez Percé Indians suffered many injustices in the hands of the white men leading to their deaths. The Indian warriors had to surrender in their last battle in order to survive (Noah 1). Those who survived the injustices were exiled in their own land.
Why does Saum Song Bo believe that the Chinese do not enjoy liberty in the United States?
What are the similarities and differences in the definition of freedom in the two documents?
Bo, Saum Song. “From Letter by Saum Song Bo, American Missionary.” 1885.
Joseph, Chief. Speech of Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé Indians. Washington, D.C, 1879.
Kanazawa, Mark. “Immigration, Exclusion, and Taxation: Anti-Chinese Legislation in Gold Rush California.” The Journal of Economic History 65.3 (2005): 779-805.
Noah, Lucky. “The Nez Perce War.” Prospector March 2009: 1-12.