• Nez Perce National Historical Park. Front Page banner photograph is of Heart of the Monster, an ancient place where the Nez Perce creation story originates. The secondary page photograph is of Nez Perce beadwork.

    Nez Perce

    National Historical Park ID,MT,OR,WA

Nez Perce NHP - Montana Sites

Big Hole National Battlefield

On the morning of August 9, 1877, U.S. troops and civilian volunteers surprised the Nez Perce at Big Hole, Montana. After crossing the Bitterroot Mountains, some Nez Perce thought they had left the war behind them. Instead, Colonel John Gibbon attacked the Nez Perce encampment, killing between 60 and 90 men, women, and children. Gibbon's command had 29 killed and 40 wounded.

Directions: The Battlefield is located ten miles west of Wisdom, Montana on Highway 43.

Canyon Creek

After emerging from Yellowstone National Park, the Nez Perce were pursued by Colonel Samuel Sturgis' Seventh Cavalry. In a rearguard action on September 13, 1877 the Nez Perce were able to gain time by stopping Sturgis' troopers.

Directions: From Interstate 90 continue north on US Highway 310 into Laurel and past the statue of Chief Joseph. Continue up First Avenue until it changes to Montana Highway 532. The monument and interpretive signs are approximately 8.3 miles from the freeway.

Bear Paw Battlefield

Just 40 miles short of the Canadian border, the Nez Perce were besieged by the U.S. Army. With losses mounting, Joseph gave his rifle to General Oliver O. Howard, ending the siege on October 5, 1877. They had traveled 1,170 miles in the nearly four months since the first skirmishes.

Directions: The visitor center is located at the Blaine County Museum, 501 Indiana Street in Chinook. The battlefield is 16 miles south of Chinook, Montana on County Highway 240.

Did You Know?

The great Nez Perce rodeo rider Jackson Sundown on his horse, circa 1920. NPS photo NEPE-HI-1922

Horses came into Nez Perce country about the 1730s and the Nez Perce became well known for their large herds of fine horses. The Nez Perce practiced selective breeding to obtain the traits of intelligence, endurance, and speed.