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Bear Paw Battle commemoration set for Saturday


October 6, 2017

From National Park Service

The 140th Commemoration of the Bear Paw Battle will take place Saturday.

Nez Perce descendants will remember and honor all who sacrificed through a pipe ceremony and drum circle. Food will be offered after the ceremonies in the lower parking lot. Everyone is welcome and there is no admission fee. Photography will prohibited during some ceremonies.

Commemorative activities will begin at approximately 10 a.m in the upper parking lot. Facilities are limited to pit toilets and a small picnic area. Come prepared for a variety of weather conditions; anything from sunscreen to winter coats may be appropriate. Bringing water and personal chairs will make things much more comfortable as well. For those who are interested, a 1.25-mile interpretive loop trail is available.

The fleeing non-treaty Nez Perce bands stopped at C’aynnim Alikinwaaspa — place of the manure fires — on the night of Sept. 29, 1877.

Col. Nelson Miles, leading 450 men of the 2nd Cavalry, 7th Cavalry, 5th Infantry, and Sioux and Cheyenne scouts, attacked the following morning, Sept. 30. The Nez Perce were able to repulse the charge and defend their camp but the Army captured their horse herd.

A five-day siege followed in the snow with both sides suffering. With most of the leaders dead and Chief White Bird still planning on making it to Canada, Chief Joseph led those who wished to quit fighting on Oct. 5 1877.

Bear Paw Battlefield is located 16 miles south of Chinook on Montana Highway 240, also known as the Cleveland Road.


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