Big Hole Montana and the Nez Perce Indians

August 17, 2018

Battlefield 4679 (1)

Photographer: George Seielstad 
Summary Author: George Seielstad 

Flag (1)Featured above is a Nez Perce encampment, as reconstructed in recent years by the National Park Service from a map of the 1877 battlefield site. The encampment included 89 tipis. In 1877 the U.S. Army caught up with about 750 Nez Perce Indians in what's known as the Big Hole of Montana. An especially vicious battle lasted for 2 days and left heavy casualties on both sides. The surviving band of Nez Perce moved on, trying to escape to Canada. Just before they reached the border, however, they were surrounded. Chief Joseph wanted to see no more deaths among his people. His famous quote was "I will fight no more forever."

Present-day Nez Perce Indians leave memorials to their fallen. Despite reasons to resent their treatment and that of other Native Americans by the U.S. government, the Nez Perce pride in the U.S. is extraordinary. To see this American flag, inset photo, on the reconstructed tipi of their revered leader, Chief Joseph, was stunning to me.

The Big Hole is essentially a valley separating the Pioneer Mountains from the Bitterroot Range. It likely formed from a gap that opened behind a huge block of the Earth’s crust some 70 million years ago. In the background snow is melting in the Beaverhead Mountains. Top photo taken on June 19, 2016; inset photo taken on July 4, 2018.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D300; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 14.0 (Windows); Exposure Time: 0.0063s (1/160); Aperture: ƒ/18.0; ISO equivalent: 800; Focal Length (35mm): 97.