Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In the Summer of 2005...

I took off in hot pursuit of the Nimiipuu Tribe. For us White Folks they are better known as the Nez Perce Indians. I was touring on a bicycle tricked out with four panniers and a duffle bag. That's all I carried for two months and thousands of miles. See? I was into Minimalism before it was cool.

Now about the Nez Perce and what makes them so special: 

The year was 1877 when 750 Nez Perce tribal members and 2,000 ponies left their ancestral homelands for a better future. That's what they had hoped for. They didn't want to be subjugated to a non-nomadic reservation lifestyle. 
Sound familiar?

The Nez Perce's empire once spanned a four state region of what is now Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Their territory included large swaths of forests, valleys, plains, canyons and a few notable rivers complete with salmon runs. It was a large piece of Paradise on Earth. After all the shredded treaties, their Real Estate shrunk by 90%. The U.S. Government brokered a ruthless deal. Move to the Reservation or be forced upon it by the Cavalry.  

A few of the clans said in essence, "Screw that!" They became known as the "Non-Treaty Nez Perce." Once again, a group of Native Americans were led by a charismatic leader. His name was Chief Joseph. The bands decided to take their chances on the road. Their immediate goal was to peacefully get away from the U.S. Army. Their long term goal was to join forces with their Allies, The Crow Tribe on the eastern side of the Rockies. In the end, neither plan materialized. 

What followed was a retreat featuring twenty skirmishes and battles. It was a circuitous route of over 1,100 miles designed to keep the Cavalry at bay, avoid White settlements and stay out of range of their Old Time Indian enemies.

They were eventually headed off at the pass by Colonel Nelson Miles in the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana. They were captured a mere 40 miles from the sanctuary of Canada. 

In 1986, the National Park Service commemorated their escape route. It's appropriately  named the Nez Perce Historic Trail. In 2005, I flew into Spokane, Washington reassembled my touring bike at the airport and began my journey of discovery. 

While the Nez Perce were attempting to find freedom, I felt crazy-free while following along on my bicycle. At the time, I doubted if their was a happier dude on the planet.

Now I don't ride much since my sedan/bicycle accident.

BTW: I wrote an article about my flight as well.

However, I'm pleased to report, I still feel incredibly free and very happy.
I'm now using horsepower to get around instead of pedal power.

The photos are from my recent visit to the Big Hole National Battlefield near Wisdom, Montana. Many Nez Perce women, children and Warriors were slaughtered in a surprise attack by the U.S. Cavalry and numerous local volunteers. A successful counter-attack saved the day for the remaining tribe members. Their retreat continued. 

"I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
U-2 lyrics

From Glacier National Park,

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