Old Chief Joseph Gravesite History

A grave and monument on top of a hill with the mountains in the background.
At the base of Lake Wallowa, in Joseph Oregon is the grave of Old Chief Joseph, the father of young Chief Joseph, one of the Nez Perce leaders in the events of 1877.

NPS Photograph

In 1926, 2,500 people lined up to see the remains of tıwi·teq̉ıs or Old Chief Joseph interred at a new gravesite at the base of Lake Wallowa, overlooking the lands he once called home. Located in northeastern Oregon in the nimíipuu or Nez Perce homeland, tıwi·teq̉ıs is the father of Chief Joseph, a leader during the conflict of 1877.

Ttıwi·teq̉ıs was born between 1785 and 1790 and grew to be a leader of the groups of nimíipuu living in the Wallowa's. He signed the Treaty of 1855 but refused to put his mark to the Treaty of 1863. He died in 1871 but not before compelling his son to hold fast and defend his home land and people, "My son, never forget my dying words, This country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and mother." Unfortunately, under the threat of being evicted by the U.S. Army, Young Joseph left the Wallowas in the spring of 1877 for the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. When tıwi·teq̉ıs died, he was buried further down the valley but his grave was desecrated.

After the nimíipuu left the valley in 1877, the land was settled and several prominent community leaders lobbied for tıwi·teq̉ıs to be reburied. In 1926 that happened. While the Nez Perce have been gone for over a century, the grave is a tangible link to a place that is still special to the Nez Perce.

Learn more about what happened next by following the links below.

A river surrounded by rocky cliffs.
Dug Bar History

While on their way to the new reservation, Chief Joseph's band crossed the Snake River on May 31, 1877 and lost several heads of cattle.

Painting depicting soldiers and Nez Perce warriors in battle.
The Nez Perce Flight of 1877

In 1877, the non-treaty Nez Perce were forced on a 126-day journey that spanned over 1,170 miles and through four different states.

Large tombstone made of many rocks cobbled together.
Visit the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite

Plan your visit to the site where Tıwi·teqıs's remains are buried. Located near Joseph, OR.

Last updated: December 29, 2022

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Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715


208 843-7001

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