By the turn of the century, Chief Joseph would be one of the few surviving patriot chiefs, one who spent the last quarter of the century fighting the government to regain the lost lands of the Nez Percés in northeast Oregon on the Wallowa River. To this end, he not only traveled extensively from coast-to-coast to garner support and financial aid, but granted interviews and scheduled speaking engagements. On January 14, 1879 in Washington, D.C., Chief Joseph spoke to a full house of Congress of his father's words of warning about the schemes of the white men. The one man who spoke to his future at a Nez Percé treaty council was Governor Stevens. He said there were a great many white people in the country, and many more would come; that he wanted the land marked out so that the Indians and white men could be separated. If they were to live in peace it was necessary, he said, that the Indians should have a country set apart for them, and that in that country they must stay. My father, who represented his band, refused to have anything to do with the council, because he wished to be a free man. He claimed that no man owned any part of the earth and a man could not sell what he did not own.
Sitting Bull was forced to surrender at Fort Buford, Dakota Territory in 1881 and many believe his first portrait was made thereafter. The first documented portrait dates to 1882 while Sitting Bull was held prisoner at Fort Randall.