Friends of Bear Paw, Big Hole & Canyon Creek Battlefields






Holding a unique place in our nation’s collective memory, the Nez Perce War of 1877 was unlike any other Indian war in American frontier history.  Chief Joseph and his people displayed remarkable skill and tenacity as they fought the U.S. Army over a distance of about 1,500 miles through what are now four states, including the newly established Yellowstone National Park. The courageous and almost chivalrous manner in which the Nez Perce conducted their side of the war created an unusual sympathy for their cause by a large portion of the American public even during the time of the war, a sympathy that was expressed as well by many of the army pursuers.

Chief Joseph -- photo courtesy National Archives

The final destination for the Nez Perce was Canada where they hoped to find shelter with Sitting Bull’s people.  During their long journey they fought at least three major battles with the army, the sites of which have been designated by the National Park Service as important components of the Nez Perce National Historical Park.

Jon James, NPS Former Superintendent of the Battlefields and the board of directors of the Friends of Bear Paw, Big Hole and Canyon Creek Battlefields are pleased to announce the organization of a non-profit association that will operate under a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service.  The Friends will support NPS management programs and objectives relating to these battle sites through monetary support, membership activities, and other events.

The website begins with narratives of the Big Hole, Bear Paw, and Canyon Creek Battlefields.  In addition, you will find photographs of events at the 125th anniversary of the Big Hole Battlefield held by the National Park Service in August 2002 and messages from the Superintendent of the Battlefields and the Friends’ President.



Photos courtesy of the National Park Service


Montana Units of Nez Perce National Historical Parks Has a New Superintendent

Stephen “Steve” Black has been named the superintendent of Big Hole National Battlefield in Wisdom, Montana. Black also will serve as the unit manager for the Montana Unit of Nez Perce National Historical Park. That unit includes Big Hole Battlefield, Bear Paw Battlefield, Canyon Creek Battle Site and Camas Meadows Battle Site. All commemorate the Nez Perce War of 1877.

“Steve has a good background in working with Native American groups that will be important to his role at Big Hole,” said Nez Perce NHP
superintendent Gary Somers.

Black replaces Tami DeGrosky, who transferred to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington as its chief of maintenance.

“Steve brings strong leadership qualities, a gift in telling history, and a desire to work with partners,” said regional director Jon Jarvis.

Black transfered from Pea Ridge National Military Park, where he was the park’s chief ranger. He also has served as historian and chief of
interpretation at Washita Battlefield National Historic Site and as a park ranger on the National Mall.

He has a BS in military history from Kansas State University.

He and his wife, Rhonda, will live in the Wisdom area.


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