Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do a get a copy of the park's brochure?
A: If you would like a copy of the brochure for Nez Perce National Historical Park, Big Hole National Battlefield, or Bear Paw Battlefield, send us an e-mail with your name and address and we can drop one in the mail.
Q: Does the park administer the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historical Trail?
A: No. This is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Nez Perce National Historical Park, however, does manage some of the sites that the trail crosses. For more information, please visit the trail's website.
Q: Does the Nez Perce Tribe run the park?
Q: Can I go camping at any of the park's sites?
A: No. We do not have established campgrounds at any of the park's sites. You will find, however, many public and private campgrounds in close proximity to park sites.
Q: Can I reserve the picnic area at the Spalding site for a special event?
A: Yes. There is a portion of the picnic area that is reserved for special events. Please go to the picnic area page on the website and it will provide all of the information that you need to make a reservation.
Q: How many Nez Perce people are there?
A: There are nearly 4,000 Nez Perce, but only about 3,100 of them are enrolled with the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho.Approximately 1,800 live on the Nez Perce reservation itself. The War of 1877 dispersed some Nez Perce to places as far away as Canada and Oklahoma. There are many who have Nez Perce ancestors that live on the Colville Reservation in eastern Washington and the Umatilla Reservation in northeastern Oregon. There are also some descenants that live in Canada and Oklahoma.
Q: Why are there so many non-Nez Perce living on the reservation?
A: Although the boundaries of the Reservation include 784,999 acres, only about 13% is now owned by the Tribe or tribal members. Most of the land passed into non-Indian hands after the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887. The Act, which affected most reservations nationwide, assigned 160 acres of Reservation land to each adult American Indian and up to 80 acres to each child. Often the sections assigned were not contiguous, so a single family might have claim to widely separated plots.
This policy was designed to break up traditional Indian Family life and ‘assimilate’ them into ‘mainstream’ America. Lands not immediately assigned were sold to settlers and miners or assigned to them under the Homestead Act. Since many settlers were already illegally residing on western Reservations, the Allotment and Homestead Act merely legalized their presence. The allotment process was carried out on the Nez Perce Reservation between 1889 and 1893, putting more than 70% of the Reservation into non-Indian hands. While a few Nez Perce families adapted to ranching and farming, most preferred the traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle and economy.
The concept of ‘owning’ a defined block of land, made ‘legal’ by a piece of paper was a foreign concept to the Nez Perce who were used to having all of the land in common. Some sold their deeds to non-Indian farmers, further depleting the tribal land base. Today the Tribe is working to purchase back lands as they become available.
Did You Know?
Family is so important to the Nez Perce that they have one hundred and eighty different words for relatives.