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The Battle of Bear Paw

Before entering the landscape of the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana, Joseph’s people survived fierce fighting at Canyon Creek and left the battlefield with General Howard far behind.  They were unaware, however, of a new threat coming toward them from the southeast. Moving rapidly were about 520 officers, soldiers, scouts and civilians under the command of Colonel Nelson A. Miles.

The Nez Perce made camp on September 29, 1877 along Snake Creek in the Bear Paws. They now numbered about 700 people, with more than 200 warriors. The weather turned cold, but as they made a place to sleep they felt somewhat secure protected by the rolling hills and their belief that Howard’s soldiers had given up the chase at last.  Knowing Canada was only about 40 miles north, they began at last to feel as if they would reach safety.  But unknown to the sleeping Nez Perce, Miles' Cheyenne and Lakota scouts were searching frantically for their camp.  Many of these scouts had fought against Miles only a year earlier during the Sioux War of 1876.

See our Blog to read more about the Battle of Bear Paw.

Plaque at surrender site -- photo courtesy Mike Semenock

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