Visit Old Chief Joseph Gravesite

This sacred site is dedicated to tıwi·teqıs, also known as Old Chief Joseph. Old Chief Joseph was a Nez Perce leader who refused to sell his Wallowa homeland and sign the 1863 Treaty. Before he died in 1871, he told his son to defend his homeland and people by saying, "My son, never forget my dying words, this country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and mother." Old Chief Joseph was originally buried between the forks of the Wallowa and Lostine rivers. His remains were reburied here in 1926.

This page provides the information you need to plan your trip.

 

Getting to Old Chief Joseph Gravesite

The Old Chief Joseph Gravesite is a 5.1 acre cemetery on the west side of Oregon Highway 82, just north of Wallowa Lake and 1 mile south of Joseph, Oregon.

Location:

  • Latitude/Longitude
    45°20'11.47"N 117°13'19.26"W

Driving to Old Chief Joseph Gravesite

From Joseph, Oregon, take Main Street/Oregon State Highway 351 South/Wallowa Lake Highway south for 1.5 miles. The Old Chief Joseph Memorial and Gravesite will be on the west side of the highway.

Things to Do at Old Chief Joseph Gravesite

Explore the Site

This 5.1 acre cemetery is a national historic landmark and a sacred and sensitive site for the Nez Perce people. Old Chief Joseph’s grave is marked by a tall stone marker bearing the legend, "To The Memory of Old Chief Joseph, Died 1870."

Nearby Amenities

Adjacent to this site you can visit the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site and hike a short trail. Interpretive signs provide more information on Old Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.

In the nearby town of Joseph, the Wallowa County Museum has local Nez Perce history books and photographs, including historic images of Chief Joseph, local encampments, and Wallowa Lake.

Old Chief Joseph Gravesite is located approximately 106 miles south of the
Nez Perce National Historical Park's visitor center where further information is available.

In addition, Travel Oregon has a trip planning website for the state of Oregon and the Washington Tourism Alliance has a trip planning website for the state of Washington that will help you locate hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and other amenities near Old Chief Joseph Gravesite.

Fees, Permits, and Reservations

The general public does not need to pay entrance fees, make reservations, or obtain permits from the National Park Service at Old Chief Joseph Gravesite.

Respecting Sacred Ground

This 5.1 acre cemetery is a national historic landmark and a sacred and sensitive site for the Nez Perce people. It is held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Umatilla and Nez Perce Tribes, but managed by the Nez Perce National Historical park under the direction of the tribes. Please help us protect and respect Old Chief Joseph's gravesite.

  • Walk or stand on pathways, not atop graves. Unmarked graves exist here; please avoid trampling them out of respect for the dead and their living ancestors.
  • Eat and prepare food and drinks outside the boundaries of the cemetery.
  • Leave all items on the graves in place and undisturbed. The offerings that Nez Perce people leave in memory of their ancestors are sacred.
  • Resist taking rubbings or markings from the headstone
  • Avoid handing headstones.
  • Adults, please accompany your children into the cemetery.
  • Recreate outside the boundaries of the cemetery.
  • Report any damage or suspected violation to the National Park Service at (208) 843-7009 or email us.
 
A monument with a lake in the background as the sun sets.

Old Chief Joseph Gravesite History

The remains of Old Chief Joseph, a leader who refused to sell his Wallowa homeland and sign the 1863 Treaty, were reburied here in 1926.

Last updated: February 10, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715

Phone:

(208) 843-7009

Contact Us