The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story

Elliott West, Author . Oxford Univ. $27.95 (397p) ISBN 978-0-19-513675-3

A distinguished scholar of American history makes a significant contribution to Oxford’s excellent series Pivotal Moments in American History in this definitive analysis of the United States’ 1877 war with the Nez Percé. West (The Contested Plains ) integrates a broad spectrum of sources to depict the fate of a people whose history of friendship with the U.S. dated to 1805. The Nez Percé were caught up in the questions posed by the Civil War and the period of expansion that followed: “who would be the Americans and what obligations would bind them together?” Such questions influenced Idaho and Oregon, where the Nez Percé lived, as much as Massachusetts and Virginia. The 1877 war, the Nez Percé’s epic journey to reach the Canadian border, American conquest and Indian exile is the heart of the book, and West tells it brilliantly. No less compelling is his account of the Nez Percé taking up farming and making and selling Indian trinkets, developing their image as “beloved losers” and negotiating their return home—on white terms, but with honor and integrity upheld. 40 b&w illus., maps. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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