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!