Even though I am a non-native, I am sure that this battlefield is sacred ground. It was the site of the sad ending to the American pursuit of the Nez Perce tribe in 1877. Here Chief Joseph shared his famous words, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." There is a 1.25 mile loop with informational signs detailing the battle. Along the trail, one finds impromptu shrines constructed to honor the Nez Perce. I was lucky enough to find Park Ranger Magera, a retired high school history teacher, on site. I learned more in an hour chatting with him than I could have learned in a year of study. It was a magical opportunity to understand a sad place in American history from both perspectives. I will definitely return.
This battlefield is where Chief Joseph said his immortal words. It was the last stand in the Nez Perce tribe's effort to flea to sanctuary in Canada. The entire battlefield is walkable for most people. It's usually self-guided. Get the brochure at the start and then read as you go along. The markers for the spots where Nez Perce leaders died are covered with tiny items of tribute that are rich in meaning (but have no monetary value, something I mention just in case vandals are reading this). If you visit many battlefields, you will be amazed that so much fighting occurred in such a small area, and that people survived such terrible conditions. Even self-guided, it's a rich experience. This site makes history real. In the summer, a ranger may be there. Check the website before you go. Use bug spray in warm months.
This is a powerful reminder of man's inhumanity to man. A magnificent testimony to state racism & bigotry in the face of economic gain. All Americans should know the story of the flight of the Nez Perce Tribe and its tragic ending at this beautiful site. Make sure to get a ranger to explain things for you.
The history behidn the battlefield is deep, however the actual battlefield lacks enthusiasim. If you don't know all of your history then your pretty much just going to be looking at a field with some little markers. It is kinda cool to walk in the same area on the trails. Watch for snakes though- we never saw any, we did see a whitetail buck run out of the bushes. If they could put more into the battlefield it would be awesome.
I have been interested in the Nez Perce for a while, and have seen parts of the trail that Chief Joseph took trying to escape to Canada with his people. The last book I read on Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce was The Last Indian War – The Nez Perce Story. Great book! After reading that we decided our next vacation would include The Bear Paw National Battlefield. It is 15 miles south of Chinook, Montana on highway 240. When you arrive in town, go to the Blaine county Museum to see the film presentation “40 Miles to Freedom”. Get a brochure/trail map at the museum before you leave. After that you will drive to the battlefield. It has not been commercialized at all. That is the way it should be. Take water along – it can be hot. The trail is 1 ¼ miles. It is also a nesting ground for hawks. Very fitting. The battlefield is the final stop on the non treaty Nez Perce National Historic Trail. They traveled 1,300 miles and were 40 miles from Canada. Then they would have been free. It is well marked with signs. Walking the trail was sad – knowing what had happened to the Nez Perce there and what happened to them after they were captured. I thought how it must have been when Chief Joseph said “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever”. I feel so lucky to have been able to visit this place – even though it was difficult. It is still a part of our history.
The battlefield is in the middle of a very windy, grassy, and hilly plain. It has a trail that is a meditative journey through the various events leading to Chief Joseph's surrender to the U.S. military, a mere 40 miles form his escape to Canada. There are many places where people have left gifts in immemorial to him and the Nez Perce Indians. It's a special place and a must-see National Historical Park.
This is a great part of Montana History. Area was well kept, grass mowed and trails well kept. Good signs.
The event is significant: the battle and siege that resulted in the surrender of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce in 1877. The facilities are decent for such a remote place (16 miles from US 2 and Chinook). There are adequate wayside exhibits and a brochure on site with pit toilets and gravel parking. The trail is unimproved but well marked.This is not a place to go unless you have an interest in Western History and the Indian Wars in particular. If you do, it is a MUST SEE. Stop first at the museum in Chinook to get your beariings.
Highly recommended. The walking tour is well marked and informative. The ranger on duty was most knowledgeable and willing to spend time with visitors. If you are interested in western history, and particularly the New Perce, you with value this visit.
The landscape is very atmospheric and the story is well told by signs. A visit to the Blaine County Museum in Chinook beforehand is recommended as it tells the story of the battle in an excellent audio visual presentation. Stock up on cold drinks as it's a hot, dusty place in summer!