In 1877, the Nez Perce or Niimiipuu "the real people" were driven from their native lands by the U.S. Army.  The war, their 1,170 mile flight across three states and their final capture and surrender lasted from June 17th to October 5. 


I first heard about this 'last indian war' while traveling and photographing in the Northwest.  When I discovered I was on the route they fled upon, I decided to travel it and document the 'memories' in the land.  


This photo project is an attempt at listening to what is whispered, what echoes and soaked into the rivers, mountains and grasslands that witnessed the events of 140 years ago.    


The Route


Starting in Clearwater, I followed the old hunting trail used by the Nez Perce to go to the Buffalo hunting grounds in Eastern Montana.  This is the same 'road' Lewis and Clark would use to cross into Nez Perce homeland in the early 1800's.  The trail parallels present day Route 12 up through Lolo pass and down into Missoula, Montana.  From outside of Missoula, the Nez Perce turned south to Big Hole, a place they often camped and cut poles for their tipis.  A major battle occurred here.  I made several photos at this site.  From here the Nez Perce fled to Camas Meadows outside present day Yellowstone National Park, then through Yellowstone and turned north toward Canyon Creek, Montana.  Eventually stopped and rounded up at Bear Paw, forty miles from the Canadian border.  

Big Hole Battlefield, known to the Nez Perce as Iskumtselalik Pah "the Place of the Buffalo Calf"

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Outside Viola, Idaho the Nez Perce's coveted pasture lands.

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Fire trees.  Lolo Pass.  The forest was burning when I was passing through.  I couldn't help but think of the burned villages and houses which were part of the war.

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Moscow, Idaho

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Burned trees, Lolo Pass

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Cattle drive in the Big Hole outside Wisdom, Montana.

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Along the Clearwater River, Idaho. 

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Big Hole.  At dawn on August 9th, 1877.  U.S. Army opens fire on the village of 89 tipis.

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Wisdom, Montana

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The Big Hole Valley

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Thunderstorm, Big Hole, Montana

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Trailer, Big Hole, Montana

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