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This website begins with narratives of the Big Hole, Bear Paw, and Canyon Creek Battlefields.

Holding a unique place in our nation’s collective memory, the Nez Perce War of 1877 was unlike any other Indian war in American frontier history.  Chief Joseph and his people displayed remarkable skill and tenacity as they fought the U.S. Army over a distance of about 1,500 miles through what are now four states, including the newly established Yellowstone National Park. The courageous and almost chivalrous manner in which the Nez Perce conducted their side of the war created an unusual sympathy for their cause by a large portion of the American public even during the time of the war, a sympathy that was expressed as well by many of the army pursuers.

The final destination for the Nez Perce was Canada where they hoped to find shelter with Sitting Bull’s people.  During their long journey they fought at least three major battles with the army, the sites of which have been designated by the National Park Service as important components of the Nez Perce National Historical Park.

Jon James, NPS Former Superintendent of the Battlefields and the board of directors of the Friends of Bear Paw, Big Hole and Canyon Creek Battlefields are pleased to announce the organization of a non-profit association that will operate under a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service.  The Friends will support NPS management programs and objectives relating to these battle sites through monetary support, membership activities, and other events.


Chief Joseph -- photo courtesy National Archives

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