White men desired the homeland of these Indians in the
Kamiah and Wallotoo Valleys of Idaho and Oregon.
Successive treaties established ever-shrinking reservations.
The Nez Perce Campaign-1877
Some Nez Perce became farmers and
stockmen. Others preferred a freer existence
and would not sign treaties or occupy
reservations. Under Chiefs Joseph, Whitebird;
Looking Glass, Toohoolhoolzote and Hahtalekin
they fled from General O. O. Howard's troops.
Military pursuit intensified
after brooding young
warriors killed settlers
who had previously
In the early morning gloom of July 17 an
advance scouting party of Captain Perry's
command fired upon an Indian truce party
at Whitebird Canyon. The Nez Perce
decisively defeated Perry's command.
The Chiefs led their people towards sanctuary in
Canada. Thier circuitious route to avoid
capture covered 1800 miles. About 5000 troops
were in the field against them and they fought
with 2000 of them in four battles and six skirmishes.
The campaign ended on october 5. Chief
Joseph led his forlorn people fromt he ravines
and foxholes of Bear Paw Battlefield after a
five day siege and surrendered to Colonel
Miles and General Howard.