Wallowa County, Oregon

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Wallowa County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is included in the 8 county definition of Eastern Oregon. According to Oregon Geographic Names, the origins of the county's name are uncertain, with the most likely explanation being that it is derived from the Nez Perce term for a structure of stakes (a weir) used in fishing. An alternative explanation is that Wallowa is derived from a Nez Perce word for "winding water". The journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition record the name of the Wallowa River as Wil-le-wah.

In 2000, the county's population was 7,226. Its seat is Enterprise.[1]



In 1871, the first white settlers came to the area, crossing the mountains in search of livestock feed in the Wallowa Valley. The county was established on February 11, 1887,[2] from the eastern portion of Union County. Boundary changes occurred with Union County in 1890, 1900, and 1915.

In 1877, the younger Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, incensed at the government's attempt to deprive his people of the Wallowa Valley, refused to be moved to an Idaho reservation. Several regiments of United States troops were dispatched to force him onto the reservation. After several battles and a march of almost two thousand miles towards sanctuary in Canada, Chief Joseph was forced to surrender in Montana, forty miles from the Canadian border. He and some of the survivors from his band were detained in Oklahoma, and later were relocated to Colville Reservation in Washington State.[3] Approximately half of the survivors moved to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. Chief Joseph last visited Wallowa County in 1902.[2]

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