On August 9, 1877 gun shots shattered a chilly dawn on a sleeping camp of Nez Perce. Colonel John Gibbon and 163 men of the 7th Infantry and 34 Bitterroot Volunteers had orders to stop the non-treaty Nez Perce and return them to Idaho. The nearly 800 Nez Perce men, women, and children had fled their native lands when being forced onto a smaller reservation. Forty miles short of the Canadian border and following a five-day battle and siege, the Nez Perce ceased fighting on October 5th, 1877, in which Chief Joseph gave his immortal speech: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
A visit to Big Hole should begin at the visitor center. A film, museum, and book store provide an overview of the events that took place on the battlefield in August of 1877. During the summer months, ranger-guided activities take place daily.
Big Hole National Battlefield is part of Nez Perce National Historical Park that has thirty-eight sites spread over four states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington) that touch on many of the threads that make up the Nez Perce story.