On a cold October morning, twelve miles from the Canadian border where they hoped to reach freedom, the remnants of a band of Nez Perce led by Chief Joseph surrendered to General Miles. They had created an epic rivaled by few other peoples in world history In a desperate effort to escape the Armies of the United States the. Nez Perce had marched over a thousand miles and defeated the American cavalry many times in battle. In his classic surrender speech Chief Joseph sorrowfully remarked: "I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find." Floyd Westerman is a modern Chief Joseph who has traveled many of the same miles as the old Nez Perce leader, gathering the children of all races who believe in justice, peace and good will. Over a decade ago in his record CUSTER DIED FOR YOUR SINS, Floyd provided the heartening lyrics and voice that expressed the sense of outrage and betrayal that lingered deep in the hearts of American Indians. His songs lightened the burden of many people and gave them renewed hope that the long night of despair could be conquered if only everyone would light their corner of the world.
In the past decade Westerman has expanded his vision beyond the American Indian to include all peoples and in doing go has brought a measure of strength to those whose hearts were heavy. He has been gathering his children to him in the old traditional fashion — by example and by caring. His new songs have given us a better vision of ourselves; they heal and comfort us and help us to move forward even as they remind us of the past from which we are emerging.
Floyd has become a world ambassador for peace in this intervening decade. He now travels to Europe, South and Central America, and any place the spirit calls him. The songs of this album, particularly the haunting and eternal "La Tierra es Tu Madre" express the secret hopes of millions who long only for simplicity of life with the earth and other relatives. "Sun, Moon and Tears" describes the experiences of the American Indian but expresses the history of many people who have been neglected and cast aside. "Quiet Desperation" a song of cities, issues from deep within the hearts of all the people who suddenly find themselves enclosed in concrete canyons while another life of freedom calls to them from memories and imagination. And Floyd includes here "BIA Blues" and "Chan-te Waste Wi" favorite and familiar songs to those people who have flocked to hear him in recent years.
Most representative of our feelings, however, is "Joseph", a tribute to the old Nez Perce chief who led his people in peace and war with unwavering devotion. The evocative drum in this song strikes at our very being, reminding us that we are, after all, but a part of the cosmic drama and that beneath our gruff and sometimes hardened exteriors always exists a reservoir of love and understanding. Floyd Westerman's latest album goes far beyond entertainment although it certainly provides us with rhythm and lyrics that set-feet to tapping and our hand to drumming. His first record called us to action and many people responded; this record calls us to understanding and we must again respond.
Vine Deloria Jr.