Rocky Boy Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana

July 11, 1877 Battle of the Clearwater

This battle occurred up in northern Idaho near present day Grangeville, Idaho, between Ojibway soldiers and American Soldiers. After American Soldiers brought most of Montana under their control in early 1877, Anishinabe ogimak knew from prophecy that they had to flee from whites. They organized an exodus and commenced it in spring of 1877. Battle of the Clearwater was a part of Mullan Road War. A list of Mullan Road War battles is above. At first, a few groups of Anishinabek left Montana's plains and joined with many Anishinabek living in Montana's mountain valleys of southwestern Montana. Most probably followed an ancient Anishinabe road (it is known as Mullan Road) to near Missoula, Montana, then crossed Lolo Pass into Idaho, then Washington. Others, however, kept their exodus heading towards Dillon, Montana and crossed over to Idaho. From there, they either followed Snake River or Salmon River. Although Salmon River was extremely dangerous to march up, many an Anishinabe chose to flee up that river to reach northern Idaho, then Washington. On Wednesday July 11, 1877, nearly a month after a June 17, 1877 Battle at White Bird Canyon, a force of American Soldiers numbering around 350, learned about an approach of a large group of fleeing Anishinabek near Grangeville, Idaho. Either that or they had intentions on attacking an Ojibway village in that location. White historians may be correct about Ojibway's being forced off their original Nez Perce Reservation to relocate to a much smaller Nez Perce Reservation. Grangeville is less than 7 miles from Nez Perce Reservation. Battle of the Clearwater commenced soon after American Soldiers prepared to fight Ojibway Soldiers who chose to fight rather than die. Ojibway Soldiers routed American Soldiers in this battle. They inflicted 44 casualties on American soldiers including 17 killed. More than 10% of their total number. It weakended that small American military force and allowed Anishinabek to continue their westward exodus to Washington or prevented American Soldiers from destroying their village. Anishinabe casualties were either 4 killed and 6 wounded, or 23 killed and 46 wounded. There are more than one estimate for Anishinabe casualties. Only an arrival of white reinforcements prevented Anishinabe Soldiers from inflicting more casulaties on their white enemies.

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