Nez Perce
National Historical Park

Administrative History



The Nez Perce National Historical Park Act charges the Park Service with protecting those sites that have exceptional value in commemorating the history of the nation. Park Service policy and planning documents for this park consistently emphasized the need to treat Nez Perce history as a continuum from prehistory to the present. [259] Cultural resources management in Nez Perce National Historical Park has embraced a combination of archeological sites, historic structures, geological formations of mythological significance to the Nez Perce people, and material artifacts of Nez Perce culture from the prehistoric era to the present.

Park staff who are involved with collections management face many of the same philosophical issues that staff members who work in interpretation find so perplexing. Park staff want to document Nez Perce acculturation without unduly influencing it. This raises questions about the proper procedure for acquiring contemporary cultural artifacts and indeed what constitutes a contemporary cultural artifact. After experimenting with a program which sought to preserve the Nez Perce language, for example, the park staff decided that language was beyond the scope of the park's cultural resources management program. On the other hand, park staff view the collecting of oral traditions as being within the purview of their mission.

NPS officials have been cognizant of the relationship between the park and the Nez Perce people as they have managed the park's archeological and historical resources. The archeological surveys at Spalding, in particular, have been circumscribed by the known abundance of unmarked burial sites in the area. The Nez Perce do not want these sites to be disturbed. Archeologists have occupied a difficult role in the park's development, facilitating interpretation of the cultural resources on the one hand, while trying to protect burial remains from disturbance on the other.

This chapter traces the history of cultural resources management in Nez Perce National Historical Park. The first section discusses the acquisition, storage, and cataloguing of the park's collections of prehistoric and historic artifacts. The second section provides an overview of the inventory, study, and restoration of the park's historic structures and landscapes. The third section describes the archeological investigations that have taken place in the park to date.

Chapter Six

Introduction | Collections | Historic Structures and Landscapes
Last Updated: 01-Jun-2000