144 years after the Nez Perce were driven out of their homeland in the Wallowa Valley in Eastern Oregon, members of the tribe have returned to bless 148 acres of reclaimed land. After working for years to keep a connection to their ancestral land, the Nez Perce were able to purchase 148 acres of land known as Am’sáaxpa (Place of Boulders), in Joseph Oregon.
A Return To Am’sáaxpa
More than 150 people from the Nez Perce tribe rode to the newly reclaimed land to bless it on July 29, 2021.
the return to am’sáaxpa ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/rpcrexROJL
— Nez Perce Tribe (@NPT1855) July 29, 2021
In 1855 the Treaty Of Walla Walla guaranteed the Nez Perce 7.5 million-acres in Eastern Oregon, Idaho, and Washington as a reservation. Settlers and miners encroached on their land and weren’t stopped by the US Government. The federal government then put a new treaty into place in 1863 violating the old one, which shrank the reservation lands by ninety percent and excluded the Wallow Valley.
The Nez Perce were moved onto a smaller reservation in Idaho, but the Wallowa band returned to their land in the Wallowas, where the US Army forced them out in 1877. A band of 700 people were pursued by 5,000 US Army troops across more than 1,000 miles as they tried to cross the Canadian border. More than 230 Nez Perce men, women, and children died. The US Government promised the band they could return to the Idaho reservation, but instead sent them to Kansas and then Oklahoma. They weren’t allowed to return until 1885 to a reservation in Washington, but they were still separated from the rest of their people on the Nez Perce reservation in Idaho.
On July 29th when the Nez Perce went to sing songs and bless the 148 acres they purchased, it was to let the ancestors know they were coming home. You can watch a short video about the blessing of the land here.