Buy Jerome Greene’s Nez Perce Summer, 1877: The US Army and the Nee-Me-Poo Crisis
This one will interest anyone who has lived in Southeast Washington and Eastern Oregon, especially the Wallowa region.
The settlers were able to seize much of the Nez Perce treaty land simply because the tribe wasn’t physically there to defend it. They roamed over a large area of treaty land, often leaving an area for a year or more. A group of settlers would show up in Oregon, find some empty land, clear it and start farming it, establishing communities.
They either didn’t know or didn’t care that their settlement was illegal. They probably figured that after carving out a life there, htey were naturally entitled to be there. The Nez Perce would return after a year to their land and find illegal settlers who were in no mood to leave and who weren’t eager to share. The tribe could either appeal to the U.S. government, move to some other piece of treaty land, or try to push the interlopers out on their own.
You know where this is headed, and we all know the book ends.
The Nez Perce were better riders, better marksmen, and had superior military leadership throughout the conflict, but it wasn’t enough.
If you live near the intersection of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, you should take a long weekend to drive many of the historic sites of the conflict, including Wallowa, Fort Lapwai, Grangeville, Cottonwood, and Clarkston.