State purchases Chief Joseph’s gravesite
Eastern Oregon land will become a large public park
|(KBC Comment: KBC was invited to share Klamath water and land-grab experiences this spring with the fine farmers from Joseph. On a tour of this property, Steve Krieger showed us his land, how the intended development would not even be in sight of the grave, and showed the buffer that the state previously demanded from him. He was harassed and threatened with condemnation of the land until he was forced to sell. There are no indications of cultural sites on his former property. By the way, the state owns the entire other side of the lake as an enormous park; the state wanted it all. The Nez Pierce Tribe did not live in that area.) Go HERE for Chief Joseph's Prayer.|
HERE is Chief Joseph's prayer.
JOSEPH, Ore. (AP) — The state completed its purchase of roughly 62 acres of land between Joseph and Wallowa Lake, and plans to turn the area into a park.
The state Parks and Recreation Department paid $4.1 million to K&B Family Limited Partnership for the land adjacent to the Old Chief Joseph gravesite, said Chris Havel, a department spokesman.
The parcel has been the center of disputes for years. Most recently, developers wanted to build houses on the land — known as the Marr Ranch property — but leaders from the Nez Perce Tribe and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation believe the area contains the bones of their ancestors.
Under grazing lease
The property, which is under a grazing lease through Oct. 15, will be closed to the public through completion of a planning process tentatively scheduled for spring.
The parks department provide d $ 3.2 million for the purchase from its acquisition budget, which is supported by money from Oregon Lottery. Donations of $300,000 each to Oregon State Parks Trust came from Nez Perce, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
“ This property will remain the way it is for all time,” said Dave Eshbaugh, spokesman for the Portland-based Oregon State Parks Trust. “It is such a beautiful location — it is so culturally and historically important that it would be a shame to develop it.”
Eshbaugh predicte d development would involve trails, interpretive signs and possibly parking improvements, but nothing extensive.
The site’s archaeological significance has remained in dispute over the years. Steve Krieger of K&B Limited Family Partnership has said numerous small archaeological digs turned up nothing. Nez Perce Tribe leaders believe at least two cultural sites exist on the land with two others nearby. The tribe has tried to keep those locations secret to protect them from disturbance.
The land was the starting point for the 1,170-mile Nee-Me-Poo Trail, the route followed by Young Chief Joseph and his band of 750 Nez Perce in an epic 1877 horseback retreat to Montana during a running war with 2,000 U.S. cavalry soldiers.
Old Chief Joseph was the father of Young Chief Joseph and died in 1871. His body was moved from what is now the town of Wallowa to its current grave in 1926. An eight-acre buffer separates the property from the park and cemetery that contains the grave.
Note from Elaine Willman: "It was their very successful Joseph Day parade event. The OFA group was able to, after many years, finally get the American flag, and the Veterans put at the FRONT of their parade, instead of tribal leaders and members and Indian flags... It was quite a momentous occasion for the little community, and took a good deal of political schmoozing for the right to get the American flag and veterans positioned in the place of honor in a non-tribal town."