In the summer of 1877‚ around seven hundred members of the Nez Perce Native American tribe set out on one of the most remarkable journeys in the history of the American West‚ a 1‚700-mile exodus through the mountains‚ forests‚ badlands and prairies of modern-day Oregon‚ Idaho‚ Wyoming and Montana. They had been forced from their homes by the great wave of settlement that crashed over the West as the American nation was born.
Led by their charismatic chiefs‚ the Nez Perce used their unerring knowledge of the landscapes they passed through to survive six battles and many more skirmishes with the pursuing United States Army‚ as they raced‚ with women‚ children and village elders in their care‚ towards the safety of the Canadian border. But all Chief Joseph‚ the young pastoral leader of the exodus‚ wanted was to return home - to his beloved Wallowa valley‚ which his dying father had ordered him never to abandon: 'Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.'
Now‚ Brian Schofield retraces the steps of that epic exodus‚ to tell the full dramatic story of the Nez Perce's fight for survival - and to examine the forces that drove them to take flight. But as he travels through the lands that the Nez Perce knew so well‚ Schofield reveals that the great project of the Western Empire has gone badly awry‚ as the mythology of the settlers opened the door to unthinking corporations and negligent leadership‚ which have left scarred landscapes‚ battered communities and toxic environments.