I Will Fight No More Forever Critical Context - Essay

Merrill D. Beal

Critical Context

Beal’s study, which was approved by the Idaho Board of Education, was one of the first textbook treatments of a North American tribe, traditionally a popular subject for young readers. The Nez Perce campaign and the noble figure of Chief Joseph captured the imagination of Americans of all ages in the 1870’s, a time when the country’s attention was focused on the frontier. Yet, by the 1960’s, when this book was written, the interest in Native Americans had shifted from romantic tales to an evaluation of tribal rights and a desire to compensate for past abuses. In his foreword, Herman J. Deutsch makes the connection between the experiences of the nontreaty Nez Perces and civil rights in general. He saw in their fate “disdain of the culture and way of life of minority peoples who are reluctant to renounce their heritage and values in order to become submerged in the society of the predominant majority.”

By mentioning the current states of the various battlefields and by stressing the injustices done to the tribe beginning in the 1800’s, Beal implies a powerful indictment of twentieth century behavior toward Native Americans. Consequently, his claims to accuracy and objectivity, created from contemporary accounts of the conflict, function as corrections to the historical record. “I Will Fight No More Forever” serves as a valuable educational tool for history students who have incomplete knowledge of the plight of the Nez Perces.