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Park service commemorates Nez Perce Battle of the Bear Paws Saturday

The National Park Service has extended an invitation for people to attend the commemoration of the 135th anniversary of the Bear Paw Battlefield south of chinook.

The 1877 battle ended the flight of a band of the Nez Perce, just 40 miles short of their goal of crossing into Canada.

The ceremony, scheduled to run from 10 a. m to 2 p. m. Saturday, includes a traditional pipe ceremony conducted by the Nez Perce Lapwai Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Visitors are asked not to take photographs during the sacred pipe ceremony.

Lunch will be served by the Fox family in the picnic shelter at the battlefield after the commemoration. People are advised to bring a lawn chair, water, hat and a jacket as the latest National Weather Service forecast predicts sunny skies with the temperature in the upper 40s to lower 50s.

Admission is free, and people can call the National Park Service office at 357-3130 for more information.

The battlefield, about 16 miles south of Chinook, was the end of a 1,300-mile journey by a band of the Nez Perce starting in Idaho in 1877.

The U. S. government took back much of the tribe's reservation following the discovery of gold there in 1863. But some members of the tribe, including Chief Joseph and his father, Joseph the Elder, refused to leave their native Wallowa Valley.

In 1877, after Gen. Otis Howard threatened a cavalry assault to force the Nez Perce out of the valley, and a small band of Nez Perce raided a settlement and killed several white people, the tribe's leaders began a trek across Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. About 200 warriors and 500 others successfully fought and evaded about 2,000 members of the U. S. Cavalry for three months.

Finally, at their camp in the Bear Paw Mountains, the army attacked the Nez Perce on Sept. 30, 1877. After a five-day siege Chief Joseph surrendered to Gen. Nelson Miles.

Before surrendering, Joseph, one of the few leaders of the tribe who survived the trek and the Battle of the Bear Paws, gave his famous speech in which he told other Nez Perce leaders, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."


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