Native Americans
Nez Perce Historic National Park

The Nez Perce National Historical Park was established in 1965 and enlarged in 1992. It now contains 38 sites in four states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. It was created to commemorate the history of the Nez Perce Tribe and the role it played in North American history.

Young Nimiipuu Dancers keep old traditions alive in the modern world. Photo by Jack McNeel.

Nez Perce culture dates back at least 11,000 years. They called themselves Nimiipuu (Nee-Me-Poo), meaning The People. The Park contains cultural and historical landmarks significant in their history.

The Park is widespread geographically with over 1,000 miles of highway between the most distant sites. It includes portions of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Lolo Trail in addition to the trail taken during the Flight of the Nez Perce in 1877 while attempting to avoid war with the U.S. Government. Other sites pertain to tribal legends such as Heart of the Monster, Ant and Yellowjacket, and Buffalo Eddy with its rock art dating back 4,500 years.

Two visitor centers are staffed; one at the Spalding Site and the other at the Big Hole Battlefield and each contains a museum. Two other sites have visitor facilities but no staff on hand. These are located at Lolo Pass and the Blaine County Museum. Five other sites offer interpretive opportunities while the remainder are simply marked with interpretive signs along the highway such as the Lewis and Clark Long Camp near Kamiah, ID or Camas Prairie south of Grangeville, ID where the Nez Perce gathered camas roots for thousands of years.

The Old Chief Joseph Gravesite is just south of Joseph, OR and contains a tall stone marker in his memory. He was one who refused to sign the Treaty of 1863 which greatly reduced the reservation, and was the father of Chief Joseph. An interpretive trail exists at the Bear Paw Battlefield where Chief Joseph made the decision to surrender in order to protect the youngsters and elders from cold and starvation. Both sites are part of the Park.

The sacred character is maintained and stressed at certain sites and memorial services are observed annually at others. All locations present historically accurate information with sensitivity to the Nimiipuu people.

For additional information about the Nez Perce Tribe, see their official website at

For additional information about Nez Perce Historic National park, visit the official website at

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