The article titled The Nez Perce Nation talks about the history of one of the largest and powerful tribes to have inhabited the Plateau culture area. Once a flourishing indigenous civilization, the article documents Nez Perce’s decline and marginalization under the pressure of colonial settlers and Christian missionaries. As the commercial and territorial interests of European settlers slowly contracted the natural living domain of the Nez Perce, the proud but embattled Native American group slowly gave up its fight. Chief Joseph was the last of the Nez Perce warrior leaders to stand up to the occupiers. The article in question describes and analyzes the subsequent evolution of the rebels under Chief Joseph as well as the group that signed the treaty with the U.S. Army. After having surveyed the fortunes of the scattered Nez Perce in the course of the last century and a half, the article ponders over their importance to current environmental issues as well as the salience of their heritage to the U.S.A.
The empirical analysis performed by the authors of the article is appreciable. There is a coherence and connectedness between the points made in the article. For example, the authors substantiate the concept of Nez Perce Nation by highlighting how peoples of Nez Perce heritage continue to perpetuate their culture and language even in their new contemporary settings across the American landscape. The notion of Nez Perce Nation is also validated by the string of legal successes tasted by the community in the twentieth century. For example, the 1943 fishing case, the 1951 deer hunting case and the winning of tribal treaty rights in the Northwest during the 1970s have all given strength to this historically disadvantaged community. The attention to detail and accuracy of statistic add weight to the arguments made in the article.
Equally solid is the concluding remarks by the authors. The conclusion takes a broad view of the subject of geographical colonization. It also outlines the injustices and ambiguities that surround such events in history. More importantly, the authors suggest the importance of Native Americans (now a politically marginalized minority) to the historical comprehension of the United States. The conclusion also seems to hint that indigenous civilizations can offer repositories of wisdom on practical matters that we’ll do well to preserve and cherish.
What I also like about the article is its contemporary relevance. For example, as the authors show, many geographies from which the Nez Perce were pushed out during the late 19th century are marking their return as part of government programs to bring traditional knowledge to ecological development in these regions. This is a heartening development albeit a belated remedial measure. I also believe that the lessons highlighted by the article can be applied to current geo-political conflicts between ethnic/racial groups. In other words, the wisdom of reconciliation and co-operation witnessed through the story of the Nez Perce can find application in the Israel-Palestinian conflict or the India-Pakistan conflict. Hence, in my view, the article is a concise yet rich piece of scholarly literature. The ability of the authors to take a historically and philosophically informed view to the current status of the Nez Perce is admirable.
Kate A. Berry, Zoltan Grossman, and L.Homana Pawiki, Case Study: The Nez Perce Nation, p.63-66