Chief Joseph Bronze Sculpture by Sculptor Mike Leckie

March 10, 2016

Oregon’s history is rich with people who knew the value of this beautiful land and the magic that it holds in every valley, desert and beach. It’s a humbling experience to look back into the history of Oregon’s native inhabitants and pay homage to those who lived and fought for this great state. The history of Chief Joseph the Younger is filled with victory, defeat and above all honor.

 Chief Joseph, or Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, was born on March 3, 1840 in the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon and is one of the most famous  leaders of the Nez Perce Tribes. His given name translates to “Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain,” but he is widely known as Chief Joseph, which is  also the Christian name his father adopted after being baptized. Chief Joseph

 the Elder was widely known for his unequaled relationship with the white settlers and the peace he cultivated between them.

 However, the peace was fragile and after gold was discovered in the Nez Perce territory the United States Government took back millions of acres of  land promised to the Nez Perce. Outraged, Joseph the Elder renounced his ties with the U.S. and refused to sign the treaty that would displace his people. After Joseph the Elder’s death the relationship between the Nez Perce and the United States was tenuous at best, however their newly appointed leader Joseph the Younger tried to maintain peace, but to no avail.

Several tragic circumstances caused the young Chief to lead his people on an 1,800 mile retreat to Canada. The small band of Nez Perce outmaneuvered the U.S. Military and won numerous battles before Chief Joseph could no longer watch the suffering of his people. On October 5 Joseph surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles and delivered an eloquent speech: "Hear me, my chiefs; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." 

Inspired by the honorable actions of Chief Joseph the Younger, Sculptor Mike Leckie employed his command over the human form to honor the heritage of the Nez Perce and Oregon’s rich history with a sculpted bronze portrait of Chief Joseph the Younger.

"I have chose to honor Chief Joseph as a young man full of strength and kindness with an unlined face. In my portrait he shows an innocence, an anticipation, of a good life for his family, of a future full of promise. This is who he was: a son, a husband, a father, a leader, before the loss of his people's way of life" - Mike Leckie, Sculptor

Leckie is preparing an edition of 12 bronze portraits of the Young Chief and 3 artist’s proofs. The first four pieces purchased before casting will be available for sale at $25,000 each, after that the retail price will increase to $35,000 each. The sculptor is also preparing a maquette whose price is to be determined at a later date.


For further reading on the heroic and tragic history of Chief Joseph the Younger please visit the following links.

Oregon Blue Book 

Statesman Journal