Appaloosa

Limited Edition Print on Canvas

40″ x 60″ | $1120

Very few breeds of horses match the beauty of the spotted Appaloosa.  Developed by the Nez Perce Indians in the eighteenth century, the Appaloosa was known for its superior speed and endurance, as well as its distinctive and handsome markings.  By careful and selective breeding, the Nez Perce also built up enormous horse herds, with some family units possessing as many as 1500 horses by the mid 1800’s.  This in contrast to the Crow Indians, considered to be the wealthiest of the northwestern Plains tribes, who reportedly owned some fifteen horses per lodge in 1830. 

The Nez Perce lived in the Plateau region of what is now northwestern U.S. and southwestern Canada.  They specifically ranged from eastern Washington and Oregon to northern Idaho and even ventured into Montana, hunting buffalo and trading with the Plains Indians especially the Crow.  Among the myriad of rivers that lace through this region is a river called the Palouse River which is thought to possibly be the origin of the Appaloosa name as being a corruption of the term “a Palouse horse.”  Another theory exists, though, that contributes the name to the Palus Indians who lived to the north of the Nez Perce tribe and were also known as gifted horse breeders. 

 The Nez Perce Indians are undoubtedly best known not only for their wonderful horses but also for their bitter place in history as one of America’s tribes that almost succeeded in escaping to a new land, and for the man who tried to lead them to freedom – Chief Joseph. 

Faced with the loss of their land, the loss of their freedom, and their very way of life, the Nez Perce, under the leadership of Joseph and Ollakot or “Looking Glass”, decided to leave their homeland and seek sanctuary in Canada.  Thus, in 1877, nearly eight hundred Nez Perce began a journey of some seventeen hundred miles, outmaneuvering some of the best military strategists of the day for almost four months.  Unfortunately, with his people starving and freezing, and with many of them already dead, Joseph was forced to surrender within about 30 miles of the Canadian border.  The message he sent to Generals Howard and Miles stands as one of the most eloquent and poignant statements made during the Indian Wars, ending with the famous declaration that “…from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”  Indeed, Joseph never returned to his beloved homeland in the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon.  Instead, after living many years on reservations in Kansas, Joseph died in 1904 on the Colville Indian reservation in Washington state, it is said, of a broken heart.  He was 64 years old. 

The red military style coat, embellished with broad bands of blue and white beadwork and leather fringe is attributed to having been formerly owned by Chief Joseph.