Chief Joseph war shirt fetches $877,500 at auction

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RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A war shirt worn by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe that can be seen in a painting hanging in the Smithsonian Institution sold Saturday for $877,500 at auction, organizers said.

Mike Overby, an organizer of the annual Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, said the shirt that sold in Reno is considered to be one of the most important Native American artifacts to ever come to auction. It had been expected to bring from $800,000 to $1.2 million at auction, he said.

"Anything associated with Chief Joseph is highly desirable, and that's a pretty special shirt," he told The Associated Press.

Chief Joseph wore the shirt in 1877 in the earliest known photo of him, and again while posing for a portrait by Cyrenius Hall in 1878. That painting, which was used for a U.S. postage stamp, hangs in the Smithsonian.

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