Battle of White Bird Canyon – June 17, 1877

Nez Perce Tribe Commemorates White Bird Battle

The Nez Perce Tribe will conduct a pipe ceremony on June 15 at the White Bird Battlefield.  The observance will be at the intersection of Free Use Road, approximately two miles north of White Bird, Idaho on Old U.S. Highway 95.  Starting time is 10 a.m.  It should last about 45-60 minutes.  This event is part of the larger Chief Joseph & Warriors Memorial and Celebration Powwow.

This event is open to the public.  You might want to bring lawn chairs, water, sunscreen, and hats to this outdoor activity.  It can get pretty hot is the canyon!!!

The observance commemorates the June 17, 1877 Battle of White Bird Canyon.  The attack by U.S. cavalry on White Bird’s village accompanied the forced relocation of non-treaty Nez Perce from Oregon’s Wallowa country to a vastly-reduced 1863 treaty reservation in Idaho.

The battle was a defeat for troops commanded by Gen. Oliver O. Howard.  It led to the Nez Perce war and flight, which culminated October 5, 1877, in the surrender of surviving Nez Perce under Chief Joseph at the Bear Paw battlefield in Montana.

White Bird and Bear Paw battlefields are sites of Nez Perce National Historical Park.

On May 15, 1965, Congress authorized Nez Perce National Historical Park to “facilitate protection and provide interpretation of sites in the Nez Perce Country . . . that have exceptional value in commemorating the history of the Nation.”

More Information is available by calling the park at 208.843.7009.

Visit the National Park Service website for more interesting facts about this Park that spans 4 states…

For the historian in you..there are many interesting narratives about this “first fight of the Nez Perce”; here is one of them.