Thursday, September 12, 2013

Big Hole Battlefield

Hwy 43, MT  High 89  Low 40

Jim said he caught the smallest trout he has ever seen last night. Put up a fight but it was tiny. Of course it went back in the river to grow up. Jim doesn’t like to filet trout so it’s all catch and release.

On Hwy 43 is the Big Hole Battlefield. I have to admit I did not know much about this battle and I was excited for the chance to learn something new.


“The Big Hole National Battlefield commemorates the flight of the Nez Perce over 1,200 miles of some of the roughest land in the Lower 48 states, through Yellowstone National Park, across Montana's high plains, all the while outwitting and outfighting the U.S. Cavalry.”

The Nez Perce had always maintained good relationships with the white man. They even provided Lewis and Clark with food, canoes and guides.

These tipi’s were erected by the tribe to show where their ancestors were camped at the time of the battle.


The Nez Perce homeland was in the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho granted to them in treaties from 1855. In 1873 Chief Joseph negotiated another treaty with the federal government that would ensure his people would be able to keep their land.

But then gold was found on the reservation and gold miners and settlers pored onto the land. In 1877 the Nez Perce reservation was cut in size by 90% and the Indians were told they had to relocate to Idaho to a much smaller reservation.

The Nez Perce were a peaceful tribe and Chief Joseph reluctantly agreed to move his people under threat of military attack. However, three young braves were enraged at their treatment by the federal government, and massacred four white settlers. The Calvary was called in to hunt down the Nez Perce.

The solders were hidden in these trees across the river from the Nez Perce encampment.


Chief Joseph decided that the only way to protect his people was to escape to Canada where they could unite with Sitting Bull.

There were several battles along the way, but when the Nez Perce reached the Big Hole Valley they believed they had left the Calvary behind in Idaho and were safe for a time. What they didn’t know was that General Howard was not far behind them and Colonel Gibbon was moving up the Bitterroot Valley toward them. 

P1060524The battle at the Big Hole was the most violent of all the conflicts between the Nez Perce and the U. S. Government forces. On the morning of August 9, 1877, Gibbon’s soldiers attacked the sleeping tribe. It was a fierce battle with between 60 and 90 Nez Perce killed – mostly women and children. Only 12 of their dead were warriors. The U. S. military suffered 29 dead and 40 wounded.

The Nez Perce were forced to flee leaving behind their dead. They headed towards Canada but the  Army caught up to them at Bear Paw, in Montana, only 40 miles from the Canadian border.

“Upon the final surrender by Chief Joseph he was quoted as saying, "Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever".”


This is another sad chapter in the expansion of the USA into the West.


  1. I have always felt bad about how the white men treated Chief Joseph and his people.

  2. Glad to see this sad chapter in American History preserved for future generations to understand the importance of human rights and never repeat tragedies such as this.

  3. Greed. White man moves into Native American territory and pushes them out or kills them. Speaks well for civilization, doesn't it?

  4. Thanks for the tour Sandie, another sad chapter in American history.

  5. Have to admit there are times that I'm not proud of our American history.

  6. I'm so glad Sidney found out so many interesting things about Chief Joseph. I saw Sidney perched beside the sign.


  7. I am always enraged when I think of the treatment the Indians got at the hands of the settlers, the military, and the entire U.S. Government. And they still get the shaft in some places, although they can laugh theirs heads off when they carry all that casino gold to the bank!

  8. It is just unbelievable at the way 'we' took over the country from the Indians.. SO sad....

    Do you fish too--when your hubby is fishing? My hubby is a wanna-be photographer ---and he LOVES putting up the tripod and taking LOTS of time taking his 'special' pictures.. He is 'trying' to get me interested in doing the same thing --but I truly just love snapping pictures for the heck of it. I'm not looking for that PERFECT photo... BUT--when he is taking his time doing his photography, I just enjoy sitting on a rock and enjoying nature all around me.


  9. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be a European descendant for the way they treated the native Americans.

  10. It's so embarrassing the way the whites treated the native Indians. Thanks for the history lesson. You didn't get a picture of the baby trout?

  11. I have never heard of this battle. Like everyone else has commented...I wonder who died and left us in charge of the entire human race. Terrible.

  12. I don't like to filet trout at all. I agree ... too many bones.

  13. The first year we went to Big Hole they were constructing the new visitor center. We were disappointed by the huge number of park rangers and nobody to explain anything.
    We gave it a second chance this year and were we ever glad we did. We had never heard the story before.

  14. The first year we went to Big Hole they were constructing the new visitor center. We were disappointed by the huge number of park rangers and nobody to explain anything.
    We gave it a second chance this year and were we ever glad we did. We had never heard the story before.

  15. I went up to Big Hole when I took a ride from Salmon ID to Wisdom MT. The museum was closed the day we were there. My Mother impressed upon us, very early in life, the injustices that the white man imposed on the rightful owners of this land. She loved the American Indian. I wish I could have had her on our many trips west. No doubt she would have loved Big Hole.

    Jack and I had a wonderful day exploring. There were Lewis and Clark signs all the way up.

  16. The Indians have been treated shabbily and disgracefully on both sides of the border (USA and Canada). This is just one more example of that.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.