By Paulo Coelho
The wars between the conquerors of the American West and the Indians grew ever more violent. Shortly before he died, the father of Chief Joseph (1840-1904) called him to his side.
‘My son, my body will soon return to Mother Earth,’ he said. ‘When I leave, this land is your inheritance. I am not leaving money or wealth, and the power you receive from me is not a motive for pride, but a responsibility. I leave in your hands our people and the ground that you walk on; I hope you will prove worthy of the task. Soon the white men will have us completely surrounded and they will try to buy our Mother. Remember that my body lies there and that I am part of Her.’
Joseph took his father’s hand, pressed it to his breast and promised never to sell the land.
The white men tried to buy the land, and the chief refused to sell. The conflict grew ever bloodier, and Joseph led his army into battle against the American soldiers. When he was captured, he was asked why he was fighting to defend a lost cause.
‘A man does not sell his father’s bones,’ he said.
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