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.
The 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.