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This Day in Local History – The White Bird Memorial

The White Bird Memorial, on this day in 1877. The events leading up to the battle of White Bird began in the spring of 1877 when the Nimiipuu were given orders by General Oliver O. Howard for any Tribal members living outside the boundaries of the 1863 treaty to relocate. The Nimiipuu were given 30 days.

On June 15th, Captain David Perry led 106 cavalrymen, along with 11 civilian volunteers to the site. This was after word was received that settlers’ lives along the Salmon River had been taken.

Upon the cavalry’s arrival on June 17th, they found close to 70 Nimiipuu warriors. The Nimiipuu sent a peace party consisting of six men. Upon their approach to the cavalry, Arthur Chapman, a volunteer civilian, opened fire. The tribal warriors responded to the shots, and the Battle of White Bird began.

Captain Perry ended up retreating, with 34 casualties. What was left of his cavalry returned to the area of Grangeville. Some of the Nimiipuu warriors were wounded, but no lives were lost.

This became the first battle of the Nez Perce Flight of 1877.

Following the events of June 17th, the band fled to find safety, ultimately traveling on a 126-day journey, covering 1,170 miles and four states.