White Bird | Native American Leader

Died: Pincher Creek, Alberta

White Bird was a leader, War Chief and tooat (Shaman) of the Lamátta band of the Nez Percé lived along White Bird Creek in Idaho.

The name White Bird (Peopeo Kiskiok Hihih – “White Goose”) is also referred to as White Pelican.

In 1855, the U.S. government gained more than 6.4 million acres of American Indian land and created a reservation for the Nez Percé people in Idaho.

 

When the army threatened military action to force people onto the reservation, they began, under the leadership of the War Chief White Bird and Chief Joseph, a legendary 1,700-mile trek to Canada, the Nez Percé War (1877).

 

In October 1877, about ninety adults and a great number of children led by War Chief White Bird arrived with some three hundred head of horses at Sitting Bull’s camp in Saskatchewan. White Bird and his family settled in Pincher Creek, Alberta, area to live out their lives. The War Chief never returned to the United States.

War Chief White Bird was murdered on March 6, 1892, by a fellow Nez Percé named Charley Hasenahamahkikt. The 22-year-old killer was captured and sent to the Stony Mountain Penitentiary, in Manitoba, Canada to serve a life sentence.

The town of White Bird, Idaho, and the adjacent White Bird Hill in Idaho County are named for the War Chief. The Battle of White Bird Canyon took place in this area in June 1877.

 

In 1995, a reunion of the relatives of the Nez Perce was held in Brocket, Alberta. The Canadian descendents of War Chief White Bird’s band joined with their American counter parts. Nearly 200 Nez Perce from the Lapwai, Colville, Umatilla, and Piegan Reservations attended.

 

Pincher Creek is a town in the southwest of Alberta, situated at the edge of the Rocky Mountains and in the heart of Southern Alberta’s prime farming and ranching land. Pincher Creek is a stable, energetic, family orientated community.

For centuries before this area was settled, the Blackfoot, Peigan and Kootenai Nations lived in or frequented the region.

The town received its name in 1868 when a group of prospectors lost a pincer in the small creek at this location. These pincers would have been used as a mechanism for trimming the feet of the horses.

Kim Fontaine. Postcard from Pincher Creek

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