Long range interpretive plan nez perce national historical park

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In 1995 the National Park Service issued a completely revised and updated interpretive planning chapter of the Service's Interpretation and Visitor Services Guideline (NPS-6). This revised guideline outlined the components of the Comprehensive Interpretive Plan - a park's strategic planning document for interpretation and visitor services. Every park has been encouraged to update their interpretive planning documents using this guideline. A key component of the Comprehensive Interpretive Plan process is the Long-Range Interpretive Plan.

The Long-Range Interpretive Plan examines a park's purposes and significant resources in order to establish the park's primary interpretive themes and visitor experience goals. The plan analyzes the park's current interpretive facilities and outlines any changes necessary to facilitate appropriate visitor experiences. The Long-Range Interpretive Plan is a concept plan that lays the groundwork for subsequent media planning and design. The actions recommended in the plan are those that the park can reasonably be expected to accomplish in 7-10 years, the projected life span of the Long-Range Interpretive Plan.
Nez Perce National Historical Park completed its General Management Plan in 1997. The Long-Range Interpretive Plan will provide the additional strategic and tactical planning necessary to begin implementing the interpretive and visitor experience actions prescribed in the General Management Plan.
The park’s interpretation and education program will be driven by the park’s significance, its resources and primary interpretive themes. The Comprehensive Interpretive Plan defines ways the park can give each visitor the opportunity to experience the park’s resources and the values they represent, and foster a personal stewardship ethic. Interpretation and education will encourage dialogue and accept the visitor’s right to have their own individual point of view. Factual information presented will be current, accurate, based on the best available scholarship and science. Interpretation and education will also reach out to park neighbors and community leaders, to stimulate discussions about the park and its values in local, regional, and national forums. In addition, interpretive and educational services will help park employees better understand the park’s history, resources, processes, and visitors.


Park purpose is the reason or reasons for which a park area was established. Purpose statements are important to planning because they are basic to all other assumptions about the park and the ways in which it should be used and managed.

Nez Perce National Historical Park was established as a unit of the national park system on May 15, 1965, by Public Law 89-19. The law states that the park was created to "facilitate protection and provide interpretation of sites in the Nez Perce Country of Idaho that have exceptional value in commemorating the history of the Nation." A total of 24 sites were designated part of the historical park as a result of the 1965 legislation. On October 30, 1992, Public Law 102-576 allowed sites to be designated in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming, and specified14 additional sites in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana to be included in the park. On the basis of provisions in the enabling legislation, the 1997 General Management Plan for Nez Perce National Historical Park and Big Hole National Battlefield identified these park purposes:
Facilitate protection and offer interpretation of Nez Perce sites in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming that have exceptional value in commemorating the history of the United States.
Preserve and protect tangible resources that document the history of the Nez Perce peoples and the significant role of the Nez Perce in North American history.
Interpret the culture and history of the Nez Perce peoples and promote documentation to enhance that interpretation.


The significance of a park is summarized instatements that capture the essence of the park's importance to our natural and cultural heritage. Significance statements are not the same as an inventory of significant resources. While the resource inventory is a basis on which significance is determined, the significance statements describe the importance or distinctiveness of the aggregate of resources in a park. Knowing the park's significance helps set resource protection priorities, identify primary park interpretive themes, and develop desirable visitor experiences. The 1997 General Management Plan for Nez Perce National Historical Park and Big Hole National Battlefield identified these significance statements for Nez Perce National Historical Park:

The park preserves a continuum of at least 11,000 years of Nez Perce culture. Its archeological record, museum collection, cultural landscapes, and structures are of national significance. The park contains historical and cultural landmarks that are of legendary significance to the Nez Perce people. The Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail commemorates a significant event in the history of the Nez Perce people.
Nez Perce National Historical Park offers a unique opportunity for visitors to gain an understanding of present-day Nez Perce culture within and outside the Nez Perce homeland and to learn about important events of the past.
Past and present Nez Perce culture were shaped by the geography and the rich and varied resources of the Nez Perce homeland.
The park includes parts of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Lolo Trail, both of which were used by other cultures. The Nez Perce country, Nez Perce National Historical Park sites, and other Native American cultures overlap but also differ in many ways.
The park contains burial sites and sacred sites; it is also a focal point for current Nez Perce culture and allows for the continued traditional use of resources. The park honors the rights retained in the 1855 and 1863treaties and will fully apply all applicable laws, executive orders, policies, and treaties related to the protection of cultural properties and sacred sites.


Primary interpretive themes are based on a park's purposes, significance, and primary resources. These themes are often described as the key stories or concepts that visitors should understand after visiting the park. The themes provide the foundation for all interpretive programs and media developed for the park. They do not include everything the park may interpret, but they do cover those ideas that are critical to visitors' understanding of the park's significant resources.

Sub-themes identify the critical component story elements necessary for visitors to understand and appreciate the more conceptual idea presented in the primary interpretive theme statement.
Primary Interpretive Theme #1
The Nez Perce people developed a distinct culture through more than 11,000 years of interaction with the environment and landscape of their traditional homeland.
Although the archeological record supports human occupancy of the Nez Perce homeland for at least 10,000 years, the Nez Perce (not their own name for themselves) believe that they and their ancestors have always inhabited this region.
A strong family structure, which extends to a bilateral kinship of 5-7 generations and includes some who are not blood relatives, was and is the basis for traditional Nez Perce society.
The Nez Perce homeland-its land forms, its resources-shaped every aspect of Nez Perce culture; it affected where people lived, their diet, their economy, their recreational pursuits, and their spiritual well-being.
The Nez Perce oral history tradition and the Nez Perce language provide the human history record for that part of the country that is their homeland.
The Nez Perce economy was based on homeland resources, included trade with their plateau neighbors and other more distant cultures, and was impacted in fundamental ways by the introduction of the horse.
The creative spirit of the Nez Perce people is embodied in their art, literature, music, and dance and demonstrates their unique cultural point of view.
The spiritual beliefs of the Nez Perce people reflected their connection to their environment (both the living things and the physical objects) and were totally integrated into every facet of their lives.
The Nez Perce's own unique values, standards, and processes guided the institutions of health, education, religion, and government in Nez Perce communities.
Primary Interpretive Theme # 2
The Nez Perce people and their culture have undergone and continue to undergo many changes as a direct result of their cooperation and conflict with Euro-American culture and the United States government.
One of the most significant impacts of Euro-Americans on Nez Perce people has been in the area of health; epidemics of smallpox and measles, tuberculosis, changes in diet, and the introduction of alcohol and tobacco are some of the more prominent health issues associated with Euro-American contact.
It was impossible for the Nez Perce to maintain their traditional hunting/gathering economy after the loss of their land base through treaties, the imposition of individual land ownership through the Dawes Act, and their coerced dependence on the cash economy of the Euro-American culture. These economic changes profoundly affected the Nez Perce's value system, the roles of men and women, and other basic elements of their culture.
Beginning with their trade with the fur trappers, the Nez Perce acquired manufactured goods that impacted their way of life, such as, the rifle which made it easier to hunt and profoundly changed warfare, or glass beads which they incorporated into their decorative arts.
Since its introduction by 19th century missionaries, Christianity has been a powerful force in the lives and culture of the Nez Perce people.
Today, as the Nez Perce struggle to maintain many of their traditional lifeways, there is a renewed interest in those lifeways from both inside and outside the Indian community. This causes the Nez Perce concern about exploitation and expropriation of their heritage by people who do not share or understand the cultural or spiritual context of those lifeways.
As a result of actions and policies of the United States government, the Nez Perce live in three distinct groups on three different reservations governed by three autonomous tribal governments.
The Nez Perce recognize the essential role natural resources play in preserving their stories, values, and traditional culture, and their tribal governments are working to restore, maintain, and preserve those resources.
Some of the prejudice and racism that the Nez Perce and other Native American cultures suffer is the result of the stereotypes of Indian people presented in American popular culture.
Through their literature, art, cultural events, traditional place names, traditional lifeways, etc., the Nez Perce continue to influence the culture and identity of their homeland region.
Primary Interpretive Theme #3
The treaty of 1855, the treaty of 1863, and the war of 1877 had severe consequences for the Nez Perce people, and they illustrate the difficult historical relationships between the United States and the indigenous cultures of North America.
Nez Perce National Historic Trail Primary Interpretive Theme
The Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail symbolizes the dramatic collision of cultures which shaped the region's past and continues to change the region and its people today. This Trail parallels the lives of all people who strive for peace, homeland, wealth, security, spiritual freedom and a chosen way of life.
During the 1877 War, the four Nez Perce bands, their ally-the Husishusis Kute band of Palouse, and their leaders faced not only the constant threat of battle with the U.S. Army, but also the enormous challenge of providing for the health and welfare of their families while moving them and their belongings across 1,200 miles of rugged landscape.
For reasons that included their religious affiliation and the impacts of the 1863 Treaty on their particular band, the majority of the Nez Perce people remained on the reservation and were not part of the 1877 War.
The three key battles of the 1877 War were White Bird-the war's first battle, Big Hole - the Nez Perce decide to flee to Canada, and Bear Paw-the war's last battle.
The discovery of gold in the Nez Perce homeland was a major factor in the United State's desire for the 1863 Treaty; the mining culture was more hostile to the rights of the Nez Perce than previous settler groups had been.
All of the 1877 War battlefields are very sacred places to the Nez Perce people; they are cemeteries where the pain of the tragic loss of Nez Perce lives is very intimately felt.
The 1877 War continues to impact the day-today lives of the Nez Perce-especially those Nez Perce on the Colville Reservation who are still exiled from their traditional homeland.
The 1863 Treaty, which divided the Nez Perce into "treaty" and "non-treaty" groups, reduced the size of the Nez Perce reservation by 90% and fostered much of the hostility that led to the 1877 War.
The 1855 Treaty established a relationship between the Nez Perce people and the United States which was based on Euro - American legal conventions, erroneously established the concept that a single "head chief" could speak for the Nez Perce, and established definite boundaries for the Nez Perce nation. The treaty's use of the term "Nez Perce" resulted in its use as the legal name for this plateau nation.
The 1877 War crossed several tribal political boundaries; the response and involvement of those other tribal nations in the war provide other voices and perspectives on the war and its history.
The United States' Indian policy and its response to the Nez Perce in 1877 were the products of the country's political and economic climate at the time and the effects of such recent events as the Civil War and the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn.
During the 1877 War, both the Nez Perce and the pursuing military largely followed centuries old trails (i.e., Bannock, Lolo, Imnaha, Bighole) that were created by Native Americans for seasonal hunting and gathering trips and trade between tribes and regions; Euro-Americans, also, knew these trails and had used them for travel and commerce for decades.
Although both the Army and the Nez Perce understood the rigors of travel associated with the trail and its topography, life on the trail was distinctly different for each group because of their different cultural backgrounds, and their different roles in and perceptions of the conflict.
The 1877 War was a tragic event and an epic story of the endurance and survival of two groups of people who traversed vast distances - as much as 1,700 miles in five months-while under the stress of war.
The 1877 War is just one example of the conflicts which occurred between Native American cultures and the nascent Euro - American culture of the United States, and like those other conflicts, each side in the 1877 War was composed of many factions and voices with opinions on what actions should be taken to best serve their people.


Nez Perce National Historical Park presents quite a challenge for visitors and park interpretation. There is no single collective “park”; no managed entry and exit experience; no centrally located visitor center providing basic park-wide thematic and way-finding orientation; and, no park managed system of roads and trails to deliver visitors to significant interpretive locations. Instead, there are 38 sites dispersed over 4 states with more than a 1,000 highway miles between the two most distant sites. Few visitors will ever visit all 38 sites and most of the park’s visitation occurs at only a handful of sites. The majority of visitors discover Nez Perce sites as they travel to and from other destinations.

Over 300,000 people do visit Nez Perce National Historical Park annually. The most recent visitor profile information for Nez Perce National Historical Park was compiled from a Visitor Services Project survey conducted the week of July 17-23, 1994. Visitors were surveyed at the following locations: Spalding Visitor Center and picnic area, White Bird Battlefield, Old Chief Joseph’s Gravesite, Big Hole Battlefield, Bear Paw Battlefield, U.S.F.S. Lolo Pass Visitor Center, Heart of the Monster, and Canoe Camp.
The survey found that 32% of visitors were between 41 and 55 years old and 21% were 20 years old or younger. Fifty percent of visitors came in groups of 2, 32% in groups of 3 to 5, 10% in groups of 6 or more, and only 8% came to the park alone. Visitors were most often in family groups (69%). The majority of visitors (79%) were coming to the park for the first time and over half (54%) of visitors surveyed came to the park from one of the four states (Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington) with park sites. Only 4% of visitors were international in origin, with over half of those coming from either Canada or Germany.
Most (69%) visitors reported their length of stay at the park site where they were surveyed as 1 hour or less. Thirty-six percent reported having received no information about the park before their visit. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the visitors cited learning Nez Perce history as a reason for visiting the park. The most used services were the visitor center exhibits (75%), park brochure/map (63%), and information from park employees (51%). The most used facilities were the highway historical signs (71%), highway directional signs to park sites (65%), and restrooms (63%). The educational subjects visitors reported they would most like to learn about were: the history of the Nez Perce, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Nez Perce War of 1877, and pioneers/settlers. Half of those surveyed (50%) said they would like more contact with the Nez Perce tribe/people in the future.


This section identifies areas impacting the park's interpretive program that interpretation has little or no capacity to change, but must acknowledge and work with to accomplish the park's interpretive and visitor experience goals. Those issues include:

all but a small number of the 38 sites are owned by private citizens or a public agency other than the National Park Service, making it difficult or impossible for the park to adequately protect significant resources or to offer visitors the opportunity to experience the significant resources that support park themes.
most park sites are managed through cooperative agreements that may limit the amount of influence the park can have on the interpretive efforts of cooperative partners. All of these agreements are not in place and this may impact the plan as it is implemented.
interpretive actions are often constrained by the time and effort the three Nez Perce groups can devote to consultation.
people/groups mistrust that agents of the federal government can adequately and accurately tell "their" story.
various stories, sites, and practices have sensitive spiritual/religious values that are not considered "commons" property to be shared with the public.
the traditional history of the Nez Perce culture is kept through the oral tradition; information has been lost forever when elders have passed away without the opportunity to pass on their knowledge.
several park sites are cemeteries (including battlefields) and there are cultural sensitivity issues about inviting the public to them.
interest in the Nez Perce story is expanding and people are putting an ever-increasing demand on the park to provide more and more in-depth information.
personal names or images used in interpretive media may be controversial.
because the park's 38 sites are so dispersed, it is difficult or impossible to provide even a modest amount of personal services interpretation at the majority of sites, and park interpreters have a difficult time coming together to share and develop their professional skills or work on park-wide projects.
two different cooperating associations operate within the park.


Visitor experience goals are statements that describe those fundamental visitor experience opportunities that a park, through its visitor services and interpretive program, most want to facilitate. Visitors cannot be required to have certain experiences, but the park identifies important experiences that should be available to visitors. In planning facilities, exhibits, trails, wayside exhibits, activities, personal services, outreach, and publications, the park will work to create and enhance opportunities for these experiences. Because Nez Perce National Historical Park encompasses 38 sites spread over 4 states, visitor experience goals have been identified for each of those sites as well as for the park as a whole. Paired with each set of visitor experience goals is a set of proposed actions that when combined with the site's current interpretive program will help facilitate successful attainment of those visitor experience goals and visitor understanding of the park's interpretive themes.

Visitor Experience Goals.
Visitors will:
understand and appreciate the significance of the park and its resources.
be satisfied with their experience at the park.
have a safe park experience.
have the opportunity for an emotional experience at the battlefields.
have the opportunity for a personal, reflective, contemplative experience.
leave feeling glad about Nez Perce National Historical Park being a national park area.
understand that the Nez Perce culture is alive and well.
appreciate and value the Nez Perce culture as representative of other Native American cultures' experience.
have the opportunity to hear the voices of people involved in the story. Note: through use of primary documentation, quotes, images, oral history, etc.
understand how any given site fits into the bigger story.
be able to easily find park sites.
visit multiple sites.

know the park is managed by the National Park Service.

have opportunities to receive interpretive information about park stories beyond what is available at the park.
understand their role in resource preservation.
tribal visitors have a greater sense of ownership in the park.
have the opportunity to learn about cultural
have the opportunity to appreciate and value other cultures through their experience with Nez Perce culture.
When sites are as dispersed as they are at Nez Perce National Historical Park, it is difficult to provide park visitors and the general public a consistent understanding and appreciation of the significance of park resources and the national heritage they embody. The proposed actions address this problem as well as the visitor experience goals listed above.
The park will produce two, 15-20 minute audio-visual presentations to be presented at all of the park's visitor centers and contact stations. These presentations will be available for the use of park partners in their facilities and available for loan to schools, civic groups, and other public and private institutions. Both presentations will be packaged as stand alone sales items for the cooperating association to help generate income and recover some of the costs of producing them.
One presentation will provide an introduction to the continuum of the culture and history of the Nez Perce people. It will give the viewer a basic understanding of the Nez Perce culture, their homeland, their neighbors, and their status in the region prior to the arrival of the Euro-Americans. Starting with Lewis and Clark, then the missionaries, and finally the government of the United States, the presentation will outline the major influences and impacts the Euro-American culture has had on the Nez Perce culture, as well as other Native American cultures. Finally, it will show the Nez Perce culture as it is today - working to maintain its cultural identity while embracing modern technology and lifestyles.
The second presentation will tell the story of the 1877 Nez Perce War. Because the war and its aftermath covers great distances and time up to and including the present, it is difficult for visitors, even those who visit several sites associated with the war, to gain an understanding of the entire story of the war and its continuing impacts on the Nez Perce people. This presentation will provide a complete synopsis of the 1877 war-from its beginnings in early treaties, to the progression of battles from White Bird to Bear Paw, and finally the continuing aftermath. It won't provide an in depth blow-by-blow of each battle and skirmish, but will provide context and insight into what happened and why.
The park will work with the Publications Department of Harpers Ferry Center to reissue an updated version of the Nez Perce National Historical Park Handbook. Out of print for several years, this handbook provided park visitors with an affordable publication that presented a good, short but well written summary of Nez Perce culture and history.
The park will work with the Publications Department of Harpers Ferry Center to redesign the park's current unigrid park folder. Because the park is spread over four states and 38 sites it is difficult for the park folder to function as the primary wayfinding device for park visitors. Maps drawn to a scale to encompass the entire park can't show the level of detail necessary to identify local highways and landmarks. The unigrid folder would be a valuable tool to orient park visitors to the park in general-identify the 38 sites and their significance to the park's themes, give the visitor an idea of what to expect in the way of park experiences, and provide visitors with an interpretive piece to take home or read at their leisure.
The park will work with the cooperating association or other partner to produce a guidebook to the park's 38 designated sites and other related sites. The guidebook will provide easy to follow directions to each site, suggest various tour sequences that would enhance the appreciation of a particular theme or idea, and provide a level of contextual detail that would be impossible or inappropriate to on-site wayside exhibits. The guidebook could be used as an activity planning device as well as a reference for sites "discovered" while en route to other destinations. Some suggested theme related tours might include: War of 1877 sites (both park and non-park sites), legend sites (both park and non-park sites), and Lewis and Clark sites (both park and non-park sites).
As detailed in the park's 1999 Wayside Exhibit Proposal, the park will maintain a consistent design look to its wayside exhibits "to achieve consistency, to communicate NPS identity, and to link the widely separate Nez Perce sites." This design will be fully compliant with any system-wide standards established through the NPS Messaging Project. In addition the park will produce a series of park-wide orientation panels that will be repeated at key sites throughout the park. These orientation panels will be identical except for the placement of "You Are Here" locators which will be placed to indicate the current site.
The park will construct an expanded web site to include more information on individual park sites and park themes. Visitors to the web site will be able to get trip and activity planning information, learn about park resources and the park's management and preservation efforts, and link to other compatible and appropriate web sites to receive the level of detailed information on park stories they desire.
The park will develop curriculum-based education programs that link park themes to national standards and state curricula. Professional educators and teachers will be involved in planning and development of these programs.



The Spalding site is the most visited site in the park. Located here are the park's major visitor center, park headquarters, the park library, the park's primary museum collection, and these cultural resources: three cemeteries, Indian Agent's Residence, Spalding Home site, Indian Agency Cabin, Watson's Store, memorial arboretum, and the Spalding Presbyterian Church.

The Spalding visitor center is divided into three areas-the main reception space, the museum, and the auditorium. Visitors enter the visitor center into a large room with an information desk, exhibits, and book sales area. Exhibits in this initial space discuss the traditional Nez Perce year Nez Perce portraits and sites. A space at the rear of the auditorium is used for temporary and revolving exhibits.
The museum displays an incredible collection of Nez Perce cultural artifacts. Each of the eleven exhibits displays a collection of artifacts unified by theme. Some of the themes are: the role of women in traditional Nez Perce culture, the role of men in traditional Nez Perce culture, Nez Perce celebrations, horses and the Nez Perce, and contact with Lewis and Clark.
The visitor center's interpretive staff conducts interpretive tours of the museum, provides a variety of interpretive programs, and manages an extensive education program for school groups.
Visitor Experience Goals
Visitors will:
understand why Nez Perce tribal groups are located on three different reservations.
receive orientation to the entire park- orientation to all major interpretive themes, park sites, and other Nez Perce related sites.
receive basic orientation to the Nez Perce homeland and the continuum of Nez Perce culture.
understand that the Nez Perce people shared in the same larger experience as all Native American groups-boarding schools, loss of language, loss of culture, loss of land, etc.
understand that the Nez Perce and their culture continue to this day.
walk through the historic area to better understand the site and its history.
understand Henry and Eliza Spalding's different roles at the mission and their individual relationships with the Nez Perce people.
understand the cultural landscape of the Spalding site over time to the present.
have the opportunity to be aware of contemporary resource programs/issues that the tribes are involved with and interested in, and the importance of these resources to the tribes' future.
understand the mission movement and its impacts on the Nez Perce and other Native American cultures.
will understand the Indian agency period and its impacts.
receive a strong preservation message that focuses on their responsibilities in preserving the site's cultural resources.
Spalding Visitor Center
Produce an outdoor orientation exhibit near the visitor center entrance, either along the walkway from the parking lot or near the front doors. This exhibit will include at least two panels. One will be the standard orientation panel to Nez Perce National Historical Park. The second will orient visitors to the resources and activities available at the Spalding Site. This orientation exhibit will be available to visitors anytime the park is open, even if the visitor center is closed.
Inside the visitor center orientation will continue with exhibits that reinforce the information given on the outside panels, but with more of a focus on activity planning. These exhibits will suggest to visitors how they can maximize their enjoyment of the park and will take into consideration such variables as interest level, time available, and group type and size. The suggestions will not be limited to just park resources, but will also include park partners and neighbors where experiences are available that further park goals and values.
Relocate the current information desk from the center of the display area to a position near the entrance and along the wall. This will improve the visitor's reception experience by giving the staff person working the desk a more immediate and more intimate opportunity to personally greet the visitor and the visitor will be able to better see who is greeting them (the current location of the desk presents the visitor with an impersonal silhouette against a wall of bright glass.)
In the auditorium/multi-purpose room, both the new park-wide audio-visual presentations will be shown. The new Nez Perce cultural continuum presentation will take the place of the now outdated "Nez Perce: Portrait of a People" presentation. The second presentation on the Nez Perce War of 1877 will give visitors an opportunity to learn about this important park story without taking up limited and premium exhibit space in the visitor center.
The exhibit and museum space will be enlarged (per 1997 Nez Perce National Historical Park General Management Plan and the May 1996 Spalding Unit Design Charette). The old, outdated exhibitry will be replaced with exhibits designed to provide visitors a focused, coherent overview experience of the Nez Perce cultural continuum. The new exhibits will give visitors the opportunity to appreciate the Nez Perce culture as a living, evolving culture with more than 10,000 years of history and heritage intricately bound to the landscape and environment of the homeland. The exhibits will also show how the Nez Perce culture has been and continues to be impacted and influenced by the Euro-American culture and how the Nez Perce experience is both representative of and different from the experience of other Native American cultures. Wherever possible and appropriate the exhibits will use artifacts from the park's extensive collection and will link the cultural tradition or historical event being interpreted to the relevant park site(s). Part of the exhibit space will be reserved for exhibits that can be changed by park staff. These exhibits will allow park staff to interpret current research findings, preservation efforts, showcase newly acquired artifacts, or highlight something that is taking place in contemporary Nez Perce culture.
With the support provided by the new exhibitry and audio-visual presentations, the personal services programs will be able to focus on more in-depth and intimate details of the Nez Perce culture.
Spalding Historic Area
The Spalding Historic area offers visitors the opportunity to immediately connect the interpretive experience in the visitor center with real tangible park resources.
Better orientation both inside and outside the visitor center will increase the number of visitors who use the historic area for its culture and history values rather than the purely recreational experience provided by the picnic area and shaded green space.
Implement the wayside exhibit actions outlined in the 1999 Wayside Exhibit Proposal. These actions include rehabilitating and updating all of the current wayside exhibits in the historic area and relocating/re-orienting several to enhance the view across the panel to the resource. Define and harden a trail through the historic resources to bring visitors to each individual resource and its wayside exhibit panel.
Develop exhibits for the Indian Agency Cabin. This cabin, with its restored exterior façade, represents the Indian Agency period at Spalding that spans the years between 1860 - 1902. Exhibits will be produced for the building's interior to interpret this critical initial period of the Nez Perce's formal relationship with the United States government. These interpretive exhibits will be designed to withstand years of ambient temperature and humidity conditions and unattended public use.
Develop and print a site bulletin on the cemetery.


White Bird Battlefield is the largest park-owned site. The first battle of the 1877 Nez Perce War was fought here and prior to the war, a Nez Perce village was located along White Bird Creek.

Most of the formal interpretation at this site occurs at the large pullout area on U.S. Route 95 above the battlefield. In the parking area there are two interpretive signs: one is titled "Nez Perce War" and very briefly describes the battle from the military's point of view, and the other is titled "White Bird Grade" and gives a brief description of the old highway, now replaced by US 95. An interpretive shelter overlooks the battlefield. Inside the shelter a series of wayside exhibit panels discuss the events leading to the battle, provide a summary of the battle's action, present a Nez Perce and an Army perspective on the battle, and discuss the aftermath of the battle.
Visitors can also hike a short interpretive trail on the battlefield. The trailhead is on old Highway 95 and there is a trail guide keyed to numbered stops.
Visitor Experience Goals
Visitors will:
understand this was a village site and the Nez Perce people were fighting for their homes.
have an opportunity for a contemplative experience.
understand how different groups viewed this battle and reported on it-the different documented stories, by whom, and the different viewpoints.
understand the events leading up to the battle in the context of the Nez Perce perspective loss of sovereignty, the injustice to the Nez Perce under the Euro-American legal system.
understand the differences between how the Nez Perce were organized for war versus how the military organized for war. (Example: the Nez Perce were self-supporting/the military was supported from the outside by supply lines.)
understand the events leading to the battle, the battle, the role the landscape and vegetation played in the battle, the opportunity for peaceful resolution before the battle, and the impact the battle had on the 1877 War.
be aware of the misunderstandings and stereotypes about this battle.
understand the events in the context of the entire war. Especially, those battles/skirmishes that happened nearby and on the prairie.
understand the skill level of the Nez Perce warriors.
be aware that this and other events of the war took place near settled areas, not in a far off wilderness.
receive a strong preservation message that focuses on their responsibilities in preserving the site's cultural resources.
Construct the visitor contact facility as called for in the 1997 Nez Perce National Historical Park General Management Plan. The facility should be large enough to contain an information desk, exhibit space, a small audiovisual space or theater, and a small cooperating association sales area. Exhibits would provide both site orientation and orientation to the park as a whole, introduce visitors to the Nez Perce people's long term occupancy and use of the area, explain the major factors leading up to the battle, and discuss the outcomes of the battle for both the Nez Perce and the Army. The audio-visual space would be used to show the two park-wide videos-the Nez Perce cultural continuum and the 1877 Nez Perce War.
Several of the goals for this site can most efficiently be reached through the level of in depth interpretation provided by personal services interpretation. Currently the site has no place where groups of visitors can collect to make it possible and profitable to offer walks and talks on a regular basis. The visitor contact station will provide those opportunities.
Implement the wayside exhibit actions outlined in the 1999 Wayside Exhibit Proposal. These actions include: rehabilitating the panels at the U.S. Highway 95 overlook shelter, installing one of the park-wide orientation panels at the shelter, and producing a series of wayside exhibits for the battlefield's interpretive trail including a trail orientation panel at

the trailhead.


Heart of the Monster (also referred to as East Kamiah) is a 53-acre park-owned area that protects and interprets two Nez Perce legend landscape features. The McBeth House and First Indian Presbyterian Church are less than half a mile south of this site.

The site has an interpretive shelter with two exhibits and an audio program. One panel uses graphics and text to give the visitor background information on the role of legends in Nez Perce culture. The second panel tells a part of the "Coyote and the Monster" legend both in a phonetic representation of the Nez Perce language and English. By pressing a button to the left of the panel visitors can hear the legend told in Nez Perce. The shelter looks out onto the "Heart of the Monster" landscape feature.
A short trail leads to the "Heart of the Monster" feature and a small semi-circle of seating. An audio program tells the "Coyote and the Monster" legend in English.
Visitor Experience Goals
Visitors will:
understand the role of stories and legends in the Nez Perce culture.
have the opportunity to hear the "Heart of the Monster" story and understand its significance to the Nez Perce people.
receive an introduction to Nez Perce culture.
understand the site's use as a traditional, and geographically significant, Nez Perce gathering place and crossroads.
understand the role of the McBeth Mission in the missionary era of Nez Perce history.
understand the Dawes Act and its impact on the Nez Perce.
understand the role Alice Fletcher played in the allotment process.
receive orientation to other park sites.
Construct the visitor contact facility as called for in the 1997 Nez Perce National Historical Park General Management Plan. This facility would be small with space for an information desk, exhibit area, and small cooperating association sales area. The exhibits will explain the role of legends in Nez Perce culture, discuss the use of the area by the Nez Perce as a traditional gathering place, introduce the Dawes Act and the allotment process, and explain who Alice Fletcher was and the role she played in the allotment process. In-depth interpretation of the stories represented by the site's resources will be through personal services programs. The visitor contact station will provide the focal point necessary to attract and hold enough visitors to make regularly scheduled programs feasible and profitable.
Install two orientation panels just outside the contact station (or in a visually prominent location near the current parking area until the contact station is constructed.) One of these panels will be the parkwide orientation panel and the other panel will orient visitors to the Heart of the Monster site including the nearby McBeth House.
Install a wayside exhibit panel at the McBeth House to interpret its connection to both missionary efforts among the Nez Perce and the allotment period.


A basaltic rock arch, along U.S. Highway 12, that is associated with an important Nez Perce legend. There is a large wooden interpretive sign at this highway pullout on Route 12 that tells the Nez Perce legend associated with distinctive formation resembling two insects locked in combat.

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