A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Imnaha River’

Imnaha and Joseph, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on February 4, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2244; A Landing A Day blog post number 672.

Dan:  For the third time since I straightened out my random lat/long landing procedure (just 28 landings ago), I’ve landed in . .  OR.  Check out the “About Landing (Revisited)” tab above to see what I’m talking about . . . 

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

Because Google Earth (GE) provides a great shot of my watershed, I’ll jump to my GE spaceflight in to NE OR.  Click HERE, enjoy the ride, then hit the back button.

While the topography is not entirely obvious while looking straight down, here’s an oblique GE shot, looking north down the valley of Lightning Creek:

ge 1 looking n up lightning ck

Here’s my streams-only map, showing that the Lightning Creek makes its way to the Imnaha R (first hit ever!); on to the Snake (77th hit).  Trust me on this:  the Snake joins up with the Columbia (156th hit):

landing 3a

Here’s a Wiki shot of the Imnaha passing through Imnaha:

wiki imnaha river (by finetooth)

And a GE Pano shot of the same river by TBlackburn:

pano inmaha river tblackburn

What a great spot!

Here’s a GE shot of where the Imnaha joins up with the Snake:

ge 2 imnaha meets the snake


And here’s a Pano shot of the Snake by Tom Ringold just 5 miles east of my landing:

pano tom ringold snake 5 mi

As you can tell by the above river shots, I landed in a spectacularly beautiful area, but I think I’ll save additional scenery shots for the end of this post. 

Looking back at my local landing map, you can see that I landed closest to the town of Imnaha.  Both the town and the river were named after a chief Imna.  Imnaha (according to Wiki) means “land of Imna.”  Imagine that – “ha” must mean “land of.”  Illinois’ translated slogan:  Ha Lincoln.

Wiki says that Imnaha is best known as the gateway to the Hat Point scenic overlook, providing a spectacular of the Snake River and Hell’s Canyon.  Hat Point lies a mere 2 miles from my landing and will figure prominently in the scenery portion of this post.

So I checked out Enterprise (no hook) and then Joseph.  Joseph rang a bell with me and lo and behold, I featured Joseph in a July 2010 ALAD post.  Because I really liked that post (and because I’m lazy and recovering from open heart surgery), I’ll generously lift verbiage from that post (and don’t ever, ever forget the “i” in verbiage).

As already noted, I landed near the town of Joseph.  At first glance, I thought maybe Joseph was named after Joseph Smith.  Northeast Oregon is quite a ways from Salt Lake City, and I didn’t think the Mormons were big in Oregon, but who knows.  After all, I landed near Pima AZ, formerly called Smithville and named after Joseph Smith.  Pima AZ is a whopping 546 from Salt Lake City, while Joseph OR is only 418 miles away.

So, back to Joseph OR.  As you may suspect by now, it was not named after Joseph Smith.  In fact, it was named after a Chief of the Nez Perce Nation, Chief Joseph.  I found Chief Joseph to be fascinating; please read the following closely to appreciate the compelling story.  I’ve done some editing, but the following is generally from Wiki:


Chief Joseph (1840 – 1904) was the chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce.  For his principled resistance to the removal of his people to a reservation, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker.

Joseph the Younger succeeded his father as chief in 1871.  Before his death, the latter counseled his son:

“My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.”

Chief Joseph commented “I clasped my father’s hand and promised to do as he asked. A man who would not defend his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.”

The Nez Perce suffered many injustices at the hands of settlers and prospectors, but out of fear of reprisal from the US military, Joseph never allowed any violence against them, instead making many concessions to them in hopes of securing peace.

Summarizing a lengthy Wiki passage:  after much tactically maneuvering & negotiations, the U.S. Army demanded that the Nez Perce relocate to a reservation in Idaho.  Joseph decided that peace was more important than his dying fathers’ wishes, but other, younger Nez Perce chiefs wanted to fight.  I’ll pick up the story here, from Wiki:

With 2,000 U.S. soldiers in pursuit, Joseph and other Nez Perce chiefs led 800 Nez Perce towards freedom at the Canadian border.  For over three months, the Nez Perce outmaneuvered and battled their pursuers traveling 1,600 miles (2,570 km) across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

General Howard, leading the opposing cavalry, was impressed with the skill with which the Nez Perce fought, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications. Finally, after a devastating five-day battle during freezing weather conditions with no food or blankets, Chief Joseph formally surrendered.  Here are the words attributed to Chief Joseph at the formal surrender:

“Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

His speech brought attention – and therefore credit – his way. He earned the praise of General William Tecumseh Sherman and became known in the press as “The Red Napoleon“.

Joseph’s fame did him little good. By the time Joseph surrendered more than 200 of his followers had died. His plight, however, did not end. Although he had negotiated a safe return home for his people, four hundred of the Nez Perce were taken on unheated rail cars to Fort Leavenworth in eastern Kansas to held in a prisoner-of-war campsite for eight months.  Toward the end of the following summer the surviving Nez Perce were taken by rail to a reservation in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for ten years.  Many of them died of epidemic diseases while there.  Finally they were returned to a reservation around Kooskia, Idaho.

In 1879 Chief Joseph went to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes and plead the case of his people. Finally, in 1885, Chief Joseph and his followers were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest, although many, including Chief Joseph, were taken to the Colville Indian Reservation in NW Washington, far from both the rest of their people in Idaho and their homeland in the Wallowa Valley.

In his last years Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward his people and held out the hope that America’s promise of freedom and equality might one day be fulfilled for Native Americans as well. An indomitable voice of conscience for the West, he died in 1904, still in exile from his homeland.  According to his doctor, he died “of a broken heart.”

Here’s a shot of the Chief with his family.  I don’t blame them for not smiling.


Back to the here and now . . .

As promised, let’s take a look around my landing spot. Here’s a GE shot, looking SE past my landing towards Hat Point in the forground, which provides a spectacular overlook down into the Hell’s Canyon stretch of the Snake River:

ge 3 lookout etc

I’ll finish up with three GE Pano shots taken from Hat Point.  I’ll start with this one of the Point itself, by Niek Bouwen:

pano niek bouwen

Here’s a lovely overlook shot by Aaron Litt:

pano aaron litt

But the prizewinner is this, by Jason Abbott:

pano jason abbott

That’ll do it . . .




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