Nez Perce Tribe’s Return to Am’sáaxpa Ride-In and Land Blessing to Occur July 29

Joseph, Oregon- The Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe) is pleased to announce the Return to Am’sáaxpa ride-in and land blessing event that will be held during the annual Chief Joseph Days, on Thursday, July 29, 2021. The ride-in will begin at Joseph High School at 9:00 a.m. and run along Wallowa Avenue to the Am’sáaxpa property. The ride-in and blessing follows the purchase of the property, previously referred to as the Hayes Property, back in December of 2020.  


“The Tribe is proud to be returning now, to bless this land that has long been home to the Nez Perce people as a proper blessing of the land was not possible at the time of purchase due to COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Samuel N. Penney, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. 


The ride-in is anticipated to include Nez Perce veterans, elders, horse riders, drummers, dancers, and walkers. Regalia is not required for participants in the ride-in, and all are welcome to join as the Tribe travels the traditional Imnaha route which is just under one mile in length. Line-up for the ride-in will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the high school parking lot. Upon the procession’s arrival to the property, the Tribe will hold a blessing and seven drum ceremony with lunch to follow. 

Please note that while pictures and video are welcome during the ride-in, we respectfully request that no video or photos be taken during the blessing and seven drum ceremony. 


“Our return to the place of our ancestors is a grand event that has been highly anticipated. Chief Joseph stated that he loved this land more than the rest of the world, and many of our people share the same sentiments,” observed Chairman Penney. “When our people were forced out of the Wallowa Valley, they believed they would never be allowed to return home. On this day, we will bring the spirits of our ancestors home with us.  We also hope that it will bring a sense of peace and repatriation for all our people.” 


During the spring of 1877, Chief Joseph and his band were forced out of the Wallowa Valley.  At the time, his band consisted of about 400, with approximately only 60 of those being warriors. They headed for the Nez Perce reservation in Idaho, crossing the Snake River at what is now Dug Bar in Hells Canyon. Although they did not know it at the time, Joseph’s band would never be allowed to return to their homeland again.  


The 148 acre property, a known traditional Nez Perce village site, is overlooked by a ridge known as a council site for Chief Joseph. The property is located behind the rodeo grounds and includes ¾ miles of Wallowa River frontage. It consists of primarily farm and riparian land and has a pristine view of the Wallowa Mountain range.  


Camping space will be available at the Am’sáaxpa property on a first come, first serve basis beginning July 26 through August 1, 2021. Restrooms, sinks and trash receptacles will be on site and parking will be available. There are no RV hookups.