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The June 17, 1877 Battle of White Bird Canyon


This battle occurred up in northern Idaho near present day Grangeville, Idaho, between Anishinabe soldiers and the United States. After the white invaders brought all of Montana under their control after the Marias River Massacre, Anishinabe ogimak knew from prophecy that they had to flee from the whites. They organized an exodus and commenced it in the spring of 1877. At first a few groups of Anishinabek left the plains of Montana and joined with many of the Anishinabek living in the mountain valleys of southwestern Montana. Most probably followed the ancient Anishinabe road (it is known as the Mullan Road) to the Missoula, Montana region then crossed the Lolo Pass into Idaho, then Washington. Others, however, kept their exodus heading towards the Dillon, Montana region and crossed over in to Idaho. From there, they either followed the Snake River or the Salmon River. Although the Salmon River was extremely dangerous to march up, many an Anishinabe chose to flee up that river to reach northern Idaho, then Washington.



On June 17, 1877 the Americans learned that a large number of fleeing Anishinabek were approaching the Grangeville, Idaho region from the Salmon River. They sent in 106 soldiers led by Captain David Perry to attempt to halt the exodus but failed. In the battle that followed, Anishinabe soldiers routed the white invaders and forced their way out of the very narrow Salmon River Valley and continued the exodus into Washington, following the Columbia River. White casualties were 34 killed and 4 wounded. Anishinabe casualties were 3 wounded. The whites were not expecting this exodus to occur.






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