"Big Hole National Battlefield" by NPS / Victoria Stauffenberg , public domain
Brochure of Big Hole National Battlefield (NB) in Montana. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
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Big Hole Big Hole National Battlefield Montana National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior When xíst (Sharon Redthunder) brought her ˙ grandson here, she told him, Grandson, I want you to know that you’re an Indian person. Where you came from. . . . I want you to be aware of what our people suffered. THE PEOPLE CONFLICTS ARISE The Nez Perce, whose story is told at Big Hole National Battlefield, call themselves nımí.pu. As European Americans began encroaching up and denied liberty to go where he the reservation or be put there by force. on nımí.pu. homeland, conflicts began to pleases,” said hınmató.wyalahtqıt (Young The nımí.pu. began the arduous task of or The People. “We have been here since time ˛ immemorial,” says wé.yux tí.menın (Allen Slickpoo, occur. The US government proposed a Joseph), headman of one of these bands. gathering all of their belongings, including treaty in 1855: The nımí.pu. would give up “I have asked some of the great white livestock. They lost much during the jour- Jr.). “Our legends go back 9,000 years. . . . We didn’t start with Lewis and Clark.” The nımí.pu. over half their homeland for European- chiefs where they get their authority to ney. Before they could reach their destina- American settlement but keep the right to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one tion, fighting broke out. met these explorers in 1805. At that time, ˛ tustımasatalpá.ma (Vera Sonneck) explains, “We hunt, fish, and gather on those lands. place, while he sees white men going were one of the biggest tribes in the US. We had Five years later, gold was discovered on ˛ where they please. They cannot tell me.” 13 million acres of aboriginal lands. We were in what is now Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Canada.“ During the next 70 years, they would CHAOS AT DAWN (Above) As their families flee for their lives, nımí.pu. warriors fight back during the military‘s surprise attack. lose most of their homeland to European Americans. (See map on other side.) REMEMBERING THE DEAD (Left) hú.sus ? ewyí.n (Wounded Head) carved a dot in his drinking horn for each person he found dead at Big Hole, including his two-year-old daughter. ILLUSTRATION—NPS / NAKIA WILLIAMSON CLOUD BUFFALO HORN—NPS / WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY ?ıslá.mc (Horace Axtell) learned from his ancestors what happened next: “Settlers nımí.pu. land. This led to the 1863 treaty Descendants from his band reflect today: killed one of our young boy’s father. The that decreased nımí.pu. lands by another 90 percent. Five bands of nımí.pu., which “Treaties divided and scattered us, both boys took revenge and killed some set- physically and spiritually. They threatened tlers, and that started the whole thing. included their allies the pelú.cpu (Palouse) and the weyí.letpu. (Cayuse), refused the to sever our spiritual connection with It was OK for the settlers to kill us, but the land and fostered the division of our not the other way around.” second treaty. They would later become people into Christian and non-Christian, known as the non-treaty Nez Perce. treaty and non-treaty, and finally, tribe And so started a chain of events that led and non-tribe.” to numerous battles during a four-month “You might as well expect the rivers to run flight of over 1,000 miles. Some call this backwards as that any man who was born By 1877, the US government gave the a free man should be contented penned non-treaty nımí.pu. 30 days to move onto the “Nez Perce War.” August 9, 1877: The Battle of Big Hole My shaking heart tells me trouble and death will overtake us if we make no hurry through this land! I cannot smother, I cannot hide that which I see. I must speak what is revealed to me. Let us begone to the buffalo country! North Fork of the Big Hole River —pıyó.pıyo ?ıpcıwá.tx. (Lone Bird) By early August, over 800 nımí.pu. (consisting mostly of family groups and only about 200 warriors) and over 2000 horses were passing peacefully through the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Their leaders believed the military would not pursue them even though many had premonitions warning otherwise. The group arrived at ?ıckumcılé.lıkpe (known today as Big Hole National Battlefield) on August 7. They did not know the military was close behind them. On August 8th, while the nımí.pu. were gathering supplies in the area, military scouts were observing their camp. 1 hímı.n maqsmáqs (Yellow Wolf) described that night: “The warriors paraded about camp, singing, all making a good time. It was the first since war started. Everyone with good feeling. Going to buffalo country! . . . War was quit. All Montana citizens our friends.” Meanwhile Colonel John Gibbon reported “All laid down to rest until eleven o’clock. At that hour the command . . . of 17 officers, 132 men and 34 citizens, started down the trail NPS / JOHN W. HAMMOND on foot, each man being provided with 90 rounds of ammunition. The howitzer [cannon] could not accompany the column. . . . Orders were given . . . that at early daylight it should start after us with a pack mule loaded with 2,000 rounds of extra [rifle] ammunition.” Tom Sherrill, a civilian volunteer from the Bitterroot Valley, told: “We were soon assembled at the foot of the hill. . . . We were commanded to halt and . . . we were very close to the Indian camp.” 2 hú.sus ? ewyí.n (Wounded Head) told what happened before dawn August 9: “A man . . . got up early, before the daylight. Mounting his horse, he . . . crossed the creek, when soldiers were surrounding the camp . . . he was shot down. The sound of the gun awoke most of the band and immediately the battle took place.” Corporal Charles Loynes recalled, “We received orders to give three volleys [low into the tipis], then charge—we did so. That act would hit anyone, old as well as young, but what any individual soldier did while in the camp, he did so as a brute, and not because he had any orders to commit such acts.” So our people had to escape, . . . had to find a way . . . to take care of the dead as best they could. But it is not our way to leave our dead untended. . . . We should care for them in death as we care for them in life, with love. So that’s a very painful part of the Big Hole story. ˛ hímı.n ? ılpílp (Red Wolf) described the chaos: “The women, all scared when the soldiers charged the camp, ran into the water, the brush. Any place where they could hide themselves and children. Many were killed as ˛ they ran.” pıná.? wınonmay (Helping Another) explained what she did: “I hid under some willow brush, lying like this [flat on side]. A little girl lay close, my arm over her. Bullets cut twigs down on us like rain. The little girl was killed. Killed under my arm.” The soldiers were then given the order to burn the tipis. 3 “These soldiers came on rapidly. They mixed up part of our village. I now saw [tipis] on fire. I grew hot with anger,” recalled hímı.n maqsmáqs (Yellow Wolf). “Those soldiers did not last long. . . . Scared, they ran back across the river. We followed the soldiers across the stream. . . . the soldiers hurried up the bluff.” Amos Buck, a civilian volunteer, told: “Here we began to throw up entrenchments. The Indians quickly surrounded us and were firing from every side, while we were digging and firing.” 4 Colonel Gibbon recalled: “Just as we took up our position in the timber two shots from our howitzer on the trail above us we heard, and we afterwards learned that the gun and pack mule with ammunition were . . . ˛ intercepted by Indians.” wewúkıye? ılpílp (Red Elk) also described the capture: “We saw the warriors closing in on the cannon. Three men, one from above and two below . . . None of the three stopped from dodging, running forward. The big gun did not roar again.” 5 Some warriors kept the soldiers and volunteers besieged while others raced back to camp. “I started back with others to our camp,” explained hímı.n maqsmáqs (Yellow Wolf). “I wanted to see what had been done. It was not good to see women and children lying dead and wounded. . . . The air was heavy with sorrow. I would not want to hear, I would not want to see again.” 6 The nımí.pu. buried their dead and prepared to move. Most warriors went with the camp to protect it. The battle continued and some warriors stayed behind, including hímı.n maqsmáqs (Yellow Wolf), who told: “The night grew old and the firing faded away. Soldiers would not shoot. . . . We did not charge. If we killed one soldier, a thousand would take his place. If we lost one warrior, there was none to take his place.” Near dawn they saw a man ride up to the soldiers. “We did not try to kill him. . . . The soldiers made loud cheering. We understood! Ammunition had arrived or more soldiers were coming. . . . We gave those trenched soldiers two volleys as a ‘Good-by!’ Then we mounted and rode swiftly away.” From 60 to 90 nımí.pu. were killed, with an unknown number wounded. Of the military and civilian volunteers, 31 were killed, 38 wounded. 12-POUND MOUNTAIN HOWITZER: Aimed at the camp below, the howitzer (cannon) was fired twice before nımí.pu. captured it. Today, nımí.pu. recognize this achievement through song, story, and ceremony. © J. STEPHEN CONN —sísa.wipam (Roberta Conner) Riderless horse ceremony NPS BIHO S1.indd 1 3/28/16 9:19 AM After the Battle of Big Hole When I walk the battlefield it’s sacred ground. . . . A lot of relatives are buried there, but the memories of them are still living on. We are here today because of them. Their love for us lives in my heart. —?ıpelıkítemucet (Frank Andrews) 1877 Nez Perce camp at Big Hole Battlefield © CHUCK HANEY THE FLIGHT After the battle at Big Hole, the nımí. pu. fled. Each time the military caught up, they escaped. “Every day was struggling,” said kulkulsiyeké. t (Matthew Whitfield). “Fighting and hurrying on. Faint for food; tired with the hard traveling. . . . Little children, some of them wounded. Women dying of wounds on the trail. Men left to die or be killed by the soldiers and scouts because they were too old to travel further, or too badly shot to ride.” ˛ On September 29, they camped at cáynım ?á.lıka?spa (today known as Bear Paw Battlefield) near Canada. That night wató.? lın (Hair Combed Over Eyes) dreamed: “I saw the waters of the stream all red with blood of both Indian and Soldier. I saw falling from trees, frost-yellowed leaves; mingling with with- ered flowers and grass. . . . Those leaves are dead, those flowers are dead. This tells of the end of fighting. Soon we are to be attacked for the last time. Guns will be laid down.” enough already. General Miles had promised that we might return to our own country. . . . I thought we could start again. I believed General Miles, or I never would have surrendered. . . . He could not have made any other terms with me at that time. . . . On the fifth day I went to General Miles and gave up my gun and said, ‘From where the sun now stands I will fight no more.’ My people needed rest—we wanted peace.” THE LAST BATTLE The attack began the next morning and the siege lasted five days. Lt. Woodruff recalled: “General Miles struck . . . attacked and surrounded Joseph, and after . . . days of fighting . . . compelled the surrender of Joseph and all of his band, except those under White Bird, who escaped through his lines and fled to British America.” he got it by the destruction of our people. We who yesterday were rich are beggars today. We have no country, no people, no home.” He and over 250 others made it to Canada and safety. EXILE More than 400 nımí.pu. were captured at Bear Paw and considered prisoners of war. They were sent to Kansas and then to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). kulkulsiyeké. t (Matthew Whitfield) said: “I always think of our slavery in Indian Territory. I cannot forget it! Held in bondage till half our band died in that hot, flat country. Babies and children dying. . . . I can never put its memory from my mind.” ESCAPE TO CANADA Those who did escape during the battle, did so with heavy hearts. “With women’s hearts breaking, children weeping and men silent, we moved over the divide,” said pıyó.pıyo xa.yxá.yx (White Bird), “and closed our eyes upon our once happy homes. We were wanderers on the prairie. . . . The white man wanted the wealth our people possessed; ˛ hınmató.wyalahtqıt (Young Joseph) explained why he made the choices he did: “I could not bear to see my wounded men and women suffer any longer; we had lost TROWEL BAYONET This sharp trowel transforms from digging tool to deadly weapon. Soldiers dug emergency rifle pits with them at Big Hole; nimí.pu. dug emergency shelters at Bear Paw. TROWEL—NPS / WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY SCATTERED More than a century later, x.íst (Sharon Redthunder) said, “It’s something that just breaks my heart when I think of everything our people went through, and how we’re so scattered. We’re still scattered . . . all the way to Oklahoma, Kansas, Canada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana. We’re all bonded together because of our encounter we went through in 1877.” When finally released in 1885, hímı.n maqsmáqs (Yellow Wolf) explained: “Religion Wood Mountain To Umatilla Reservation Fort Walsh C A N A D A had to do with where they placed us. . . . The interpreter asked us, ‘Where you want to go? Lapwai and be Christian, or Colville and just be yourself?’ No other question was asked us. . . . Chief [Young] Joseph was not given choice where to go. But he had promise . . . he could go [to his homeland in Oregon] with his band. That was never to be.” Sitting Bull’s Camp To Nez Perce Reservation Frenchmans Creek SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION / NAA cape White Bird’s Es M ilk ˛ hınmató.wyalahtqıt (Young Joseph) and General Gibbon, 1889 Cree Crossing Members of the Nez Perce Appaloosa Horse Club at Big Hole Battlefield Battle of Bear Paw September 30–October 5 NPS / STEPHANIE MARTIN COLVILLE RESERVATION Cow Island Landing Fort Benton R O D E E RO UT W RC S ell selsh Mus ST U RG Tongue River Cantonment Sturgis departs August 12 Miles departs September 18 Battle of Canyon Creek September 13 OK Big ho RD Little Bighorn Battlefield 1876 rn A AR D RA STURGIS W Y O M I N G August 20 Sna ke Nez Perce route temıyéwtıtu.t (Albert Andrews Redstar) So to the young people, “Don’t forget who you are. Learn how to pick up those drums and sing the songs that we sing, learn how to speak in the fashion of our old people. Because it’s in those songs and in the speech of our people that we learn the lessons to carry our lives. Don’t forget those old teachings.” US military routes North 0 50 0 Visiting Other Battle Sites of the People’s Flight 100 Kilometers 50 100 Miles Planning Your Visit Big Hole National Battlefield is on MT 43 between US 93 on the west and I-15 on the east. VISITOR CENTER Open daily 9 am to 5 pm in summer; 10 am to 5 pm in winter. Closed all federal holidays in winter and spring. The battlefield is open daily, sunrise to sunset. White Bird Battlefield Canyon Creek Battlefield Bear Paw Battlefield US FOREST SERVICE US FOREST SERVICE NPS / STEPHANIE MARTIN In addition to Big Hole National Battlefield, Nez Perce National Historical Park includes sites in four states related to nimí.pu. history and the events of 1877. Visit White Bird Battlefield (above), where the battles began, and Bear Paw Battlefield (far right), where they ended. Learn more at the visitor center in Spalding, ID, or on the park website. The Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail also commemorates the flight. The battle at Canyon Creek (above) took place 10 miles north of present-day Laurel, MT. Most of the battlefield site is on private property, but Nez Perce National Historical Park maintains an outdoor exhibit at the junction of MT 532 and 401 and provides information about the battle on its website. Bear Paw Battlefield is along MT 240, 16 miles south of Chinook, MT. It is part of Nez Perce National Historical Park and is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Outdoor exhibits explain the events of 1877. The Blaine County Museum (www.blainecountymuseum.com) in Chinook serves as the visitor center for the battlefield and has exhibits and a film about the battle. BIHO S2.indd 1 ?ıpelıkítemucet (Frank Andrews) Our victory is that we are still here. We are still surviving, we are going on. We still have our culture, traditions, customs, united together. Maybe one day we can share each other’s different ways and . . . join hands together and work for that. ta?mapcá?yox.ayx.áyx (White Hawk / John Miller) Now, all this trouble is past. It is like two different trees, young trees. Planted, they grow together their branches intertwining. Hereafter, both races, red and white are friendly always. . . . That this would last as long as the world exists. E Battle of Camas Meadows NG August 15 WA AR W Birch Creek Clarks Fork Yellowstone YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK I D A H O sísa.wipam (Roberta Conner) This history is kept alive no matter how sad it is, no matter how much injustice and tragedy it carries. Doesn’t matter. We keep it alive because if we forget this history, we forget part of our identity. This history not only has made us sad, it’s made us strong, it’s made us resilient. Targhee Pass ange in R Bannack Bannack Pass BS llat n H M AT E N E Z P E R C E HOMELAND A Ga S al m o Rebecca Miles There’s no future without forgiveness. If we can forgive, there’s nothing this tribe can’t do. IS August 9–10 June 17 Hope for the Future P L A I N S Battle of the Big Hole LE HO PE Judith Gap ne sto ow l l Ye Fort Ellis O APPROXI MI RD M O N T A N A Gibbon Pass A P P R O X I M AT E 1 8 5 5 T R E AT Y B O U N DARY O R E G O N A rk S T N Tolo Lake M July 11–12 o t Va l l e y Battle of the Clearwater Camp Baker C la rk Fo Lolo Pass Battle of White Bird Canyon Sna ke Fort Missoula To exile Misso uri HO AR Bitterro W HO N NE July 26 NEZ PERCE RESERVATION 1863 O GIBB Z Fort Fizzle June 2–14 UMATILLA RESERVATION Gibbon departs July 28 Y C K Corporal Charles Loynes (when he was 90) As I sit retrospecting [sic] so vividly on those distant days when battles took place between your brave ancestors and my fellow soldiers, it is with saddened regret that I, and they, were compelled to carry out the orders of our superior officers, when we knew they were fighting for the preservation of their homes and the right to live their own lives, and their own religious beliefs. Fort Shaw Madison ˛ W A S H I N G T hınmató.wyalahtqıt (Young Joseph) Treat all O N men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. . . . Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other, then we shall have no more wars. We shall be . . . brothers of one father and one mother, with one sky above us and one country around us. . . . Then the Great Fort Lapwai Spirit . . . will smile upon this land, and send Cottonwood Skirmishes rain to wash out the bloody spots. . . . For this July 4–5 time the Indian race are waiting and praying. September 23 E A T G R Lessons from the Tragedy CAMPING AND LODGING National forest campgrounds are nearby; Wisdom, MT, has limited lodging and services. More services are available in Butte, Dillon, or Hamilton, MT, or in Salmon, ID. FIREARMS For firearms regulations check the park website. ACCESSIBILITY We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information go to the visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website. Emergencies call 911 (Limited cell phone service.) Nez Perce National Historical Park 39063 US 95; Spalding, ID 83540 208-843-7020; www.nps.gov/nepe Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail www.fs.usda.gov/npnht Big Hole National Battlefield is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks, go to www.nps.gov. FISHING AND HUNTING Montana laws apply. Ask at the visitor center or check the park website for more information. ✩GPO:20xx—xxx-xxx/xxxxx Reprint 20xx Printed on recycled paper. MORE INFORMATION Big Hole National Battlefield PO Box 237 Wisdom, MT 59761 406-689-3155 www.nps.gov/biho Camas in bloom © P R WREDEN Join the park community. www.nationalparks.org 2/25/16 1:18 PM