Nez Perce NHP - Montana Sites
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.
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.
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?
In 1994 the Idaho Fish and Game Department drained Tolo Lake, a site of Nez Perce National Historical Park, for a restoration project. In the lake bottom, six to eight Columbian mammoth skeletons were found. A replica skeleton is on display in Grangeville, Idaho