Chief Red Heart Ceremony

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Hundreds gathered Saturday for the annual Nez Perce Chief Red Heart Memorial Ceremony at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Every year, the Nez Perce perform memorial ceremonies at battle sites, including Bear Paw, Whitebird and Big Hole. In 1998, they added a nonbattle site: Fort Vancouver, where the tribe was imprisoned for eight months under the orders of Gen. O.O. Howard. The prisoners were Chief Red Heart and a band of his relatives and friends. They were released on April 22, 1878, and taken to the Nez Perce Reservation. The ceremony marks a healing, and local leaders join tribal elders and youth to note the day.