Friday, September 16, 2016
Big Hole National Battlefield
The Nez Perce’s original homeland covered parts of what is now Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. They had more than 100 permanent villages and many temporary hunting and gathering camps. In the 1870s some bands of Nez Perce signed treaties agreeing to settle on a reservation in Idaho but the Wallowa Valley band lead by Chief Joseph wanted to stay in the Oregon. After being threatened with war Chief Joseph agreed to take his people to the reservation however before he could a few young men of the tribe attacked and killed three white men who had harmed the Nez Perce.
Chief Joseph decided that they would be safer in Canada with Sitting Bull and the Lakota. This was the beginning of a four month, 1,600 mile journey with the army close on their heels. On August 9, 1877 the Nez Perce were sound asleep in their night camp at Big Hole meadow, believing the army was far behind, when the soldiers attacked. The Nez Perce escaped after two days of battle which left almost 90 Nez Perce and 31 soldiers and volunteers dead but on October 5, only 40 miles from Canada, cold, hungry and tired of fighting, the Nez Perce surrendered.
The site includes a visitor center with exhibits, a video, and an overlook with a good view of the battlefield. A short trail leads to the Nez Perce campsite and another leads to the position of the army.
The visitor center is accessible. The trails are surfaced with small stones. The trail to the Nez Perce campsite is level and accessible with help. The other trail goes up a steep hill.
The parking lot at the visitor center has long bus/RV spaces. The parking lot for the trails is large enough for RVs.
Battlefield 45.64322, -113.65304