The Price of Gold
Joseph, Nez Perce, 1877

Bronze / Mixed-Media - Wall-Hung under Glass
18" diameter x 4 ¼" deep
1/1 (one-off original)

Artist's Comments: This one holds a special place in my heart. I was born in Oregon's Grande Ronde Valley, only a few miles from Wallowa Lake and the valley that was Joseph's ancestral home. The home that the Nez Perce were forced out of, once gold was discovered. As a child, I've walked the ground of the Whitebird battlefield in Idaho. As an adult, I've spent the evening on the sacred site of the Nez Perce encampment at the Big Hole battlefield in Montana. This on the anniversary of the same evening before the solder's attack. The story of the heart breaking Nez Perce war of 1877 and the historic trek that Joseph led his people on, is familiar to many. Such is the stuff of legends.

A note on the use of barbed wire in this piece: Barbed wire was invented in 1873. The first use was in Texas, and from there its use spread around the country. It is doubtful that Joseph or his people had seen barbed wire at the time of the Nez Perce war of 1877. It would not be long, however, before it was to be used in abundance in their ancestral homeland of Oregon and Idaho, including the Wallowa valley. Barbed wire is something that Joseph would come to know well during his lifetime. It, perhaps better than anything else, is representative of a concept that was completely alien to Native Americans. Hence its symbolism in this work. Yes, the gold is real and is from the ancestral home of the Nez Perce. And, yes, the blood on the baby moccasins is real. The ultimate price for gold was the blood of the children!