The Battle of White Bird Canyon was fought on June 17, 1877 in Idaho Territory. White Bird Canyon was the opening battle of the Nez Perce War between the Nez Perce Indians and the United States. The battle was a significant defeat of the U.S. Army. It took place in the western part of present-day Idaho County, southwest of the city of Grangeville.
My grandmother was born near here in 1904, she told me stories of when she was a little girl. Native american families would travel through their land on horse back and setup camp near the Salmon River. The Indians always offered grandma’s family gifts such as deer skin gloves, to show their gratitude for allowing them to camp near grandma’s home.
The Nez Perce territory at the time of Lewis and Clark (1804–1806) was approximately 17,000,000 acres (69,000 km2) and covered parts of present-day Washington,Oregon, Montana, and Idaho, in an area surrounding the Snake, Salmon and the Clearwater rivers. The tribal area extended from the Bitterroots in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west between latitudes 45°N and 47°N.
Nez Perce encampment, Lapwai, Idaho, July 4, ca. 1899
The Nez Perce or Niimíipu, had lost their homelands after the 1877 war with the US. Thirty years later they were thoughtful and kind to my grandmothers family. My great grand father was given a homestead on that land by the US government.