Historical Park: Nez Perce in Idaho

39063 Hwy. 95, Spalding For centuries the Nez Perce Native Americans have lived in the valleys of the Snake and

Nez Perce National Historical Park, Idaho
The design of the park’s visitors center and museum echoes the low-lying mountains on the horizon

39063 Hwy. 95, Spalding

For centuries the Nez Perce Native Americans have lived in the valleys of the Snake and Clearwater rivers. In 1805 they welcomed the explorers Lewis and Clark and told them of the great water route to the Pacific along the Snake and Columbia rivers.

The tribe lived in relative peace with the influx of American settlers until gold was discovered on tribal lands in the 1860s, and the U.S. government proposed to limit the Native Americans to a reservation one-tenth the size of the territory they had been guaranteed.

The war of 1877 eventually led to the defeat of the Nez Perce people. Chief Joseph is one of the Nez Perce leaders, famous for the lucid eloquence with which he expressed the finality of his people’s tragic surrender: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

The park comprises 38 separate historically significant sites that are scattered over four states, most of them within the Nez Perce reservation. These sites commemorate not only the Nez Perce people but also explorers, missionaries, traders, and gold miners.

The park headquarters at Spalding has a visitors center that offers films and interpretive talks and includes a museum portraying the Nez Perce culture with beautiful examples of Native American dress, beadwork, and other artifacts.

Within a short drive of Spalding, you can see the various sites of the 1836 mission, a gristmill, the early Indian Agency, and Fort Lapwai. In the surrounding area camping, boating, swimming, hiking, and fishing are available.

Visitors center closed major winter holidays.

www.nps.gov/nepe

(208) 843-7001

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest