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Nez Perz

Commemorating the Nez Perce

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posted March 9, 2018

Big Hole National Battlefield remembers the events of Aug. 9, 1877, when members of the Nez Perce tribe awoke to gunfire from U.S. Colonel John Gibbon’s troops. By the time the smoke cleared the next day, 90 Nez Perce members were dead, along with more than 30 soldiers and volunteers.

A majority of group programs at the 655-acre site, which is located 60 miles southwest of Butte near Wisdom, Montana, start at the visitor center. Displays in the museum and an introductory movie provide an overview of the events that took place in 1877.

Many guided activities are offered during the summer months, including the popular battlefield hike. This ranger-led walk covers one to two miles and includes narration on the battle, the landscape and the tribe. Two other options are the 30-minute deck talks and the summer speaker series.

Groups also can time a visit to coincide with the Annual Commemoration of the Battle of the Big Hole, which this year will be held Aug. 11. This event honors both those who lost their lives and those who survived, and is a traditional day of remembrance for the Nez Perce people. It begins with a tribute service and includes a pipe ceremony, presentations, a drum circle and a performance by the Nez Perce Nation Drum band.

Each year in late May the battlefield also is the site of Coyote Camp, an educational program geared for school groups. As part of the camp, students rotate through activity stations and see cultural demonstrations.

For more information, call +1.406.689.3155 or visit

Top photo by CC Wikimedia Commons/Roger M. Peterson: