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Wallowa County was among the last places wrested from Native Americans by white pioneers. The first whites moved there in 1871, the year the venerated Nez Perce leader Old Chief Joseph died.
Known to the Nez Perce as Tuekakas and Wellamotkin, Old Chief Joseph became leader of the Wallowa Band in 1832 and is buried at Wallowa Lake. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Young Chief Joseph, or Hinmatooyalatkekt, as the trickle of pioneers became a torrent.
In May 1877, the 750-member Wallowa Band was ordered to leave under an 1863 treaty later labeled a fraud by both Nez Perce and non-Native American historians. They were given 30 days to gather their cattle and 2,000 horses and cross the Snake River to resettle in Lapwai, Idaho.
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