Administrative History
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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.


The Nez Perce Tribe purchased two historic collections in 1964 when the park bill was still under consideration in Congress, entrusting them to the Park Service's care once the park had been authorized. One collection consisted of the inventory left in the Watson's Store when the tribe purchased the property. Since this building had served as a general store for the local Nez Perce Indians since 1911, it still contained numerous interesting items that would be of use in a historic furnishings plan. The other collection was that belonging to Joe Evans' Sacajawea Museum, located near the Watson's Store. The Evans family had been augmenting their museum collection since 1931. Most of the artifacts were unauthenticated. They included a buckskin dress alleged to have belonged to Sacajawea, and a dugout canoe supposedly used by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Much of the collection had been damaged or destroyed in the flood of 1963. The Evans family sold other items along with their house lot in 1964. These two collections were stored in various locations at Lapwai and Spalding, including the basement of the tribal headquarters, Watson's Store, and Fort Lapwai Officers' Quarters, and received little curatorial care before the mid 1970s. [260]

In 1967, Washington State University loaned the L.V. McWhorter collection to Nez Perce National Historical Park. McWhorter was a Washington rancher with an interest in documents and cultural materials pertaining to the Nez Perce and Yakima tribes. Park officials stored the McWhorter collection in a locked vault located in one of the offices in the former Blue Lantern Motel. After selecting certain items for exhibit in the new visitor center, the park returned the McWhorter collection to Washington State University in 1983. [261] In 1971, the NPS purchased the Vera I. Rydryck collection, which added about 200 important artifacts to the park's inventory. The park received other collections by donation, including the Chapman family collection of artifacts collected in the 1920s and 1930s in the Snake and Clearwater river drainages, and the Spalding Museum Foundation's collection (see Chapter 1). [262]

Collections management did not go beyond storage of the materials until the mid-1970s, when the park administration gradually added that function to its scope of operations. In 1974, the NPS contracted with Joel Bernstein, an instructor at the University of Montana, to catalog records and artifacts stored in Lapwai. Bernstein found his working conditions in the Officers' Quarters building so primitive that he eventually moved his cataloguing operation to an office in the park headquarters building in Spalding. In any case, the NPS found Bernstein's work to be of such poor quality that it had to be redone. [263] In 1976, the NPS contracted for this work with Stephen D. Shawley, a local expert on Nez Perce material culture with a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Idaho. In 1977, Shawley secured a staff position as the park's first museum curator.

Like Bernstein, Shawley worked under adverse conditions. The collections were still exposed to vermin and the storage facilities lacked proper standards of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC). Among Shawley's first recommendations was the need for a new museum storage facility. The NPS began renting the Rose building in Lapwai for collections storage. Formerly an auto service garage, the Rose building was a windowless, masonry structure without insulation. The NPS retrofitted the facility with fire and burglar alarms, heaters, and humidifiers. Despite the exorbitant cost of maintaining the proper temperature and humidity levels for the collections through the winter, the Rose building served as the park's museum storage facility until the collections could be moved to the new visitor center in 1981. [264]

Under Shawley's guidance, the Park Service sought to acquire more items of Nez Perce traditional material culture to improve its exhibits in the visitor center. Out of a total of some 30,000 items held by the park, approximately 85 percent were of relatively recent vintage and would be of little use outside the Watson's Store exhibit. Shawley noted many categories of traditional material culture were inadequately represented: toys and recreation devices, hunting and fishing implements, ceremonial objects, women's dress, horse technology and accoutrements, native medicines, and household tools. Superintendent Morris requested $10,000 for the purpose of purchasing such artifacts. [265]

That same year the NPS arranged with the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) for the loan of the Dudley Allen-Henry Spalding collection. Henry Spalding, like other nineteenth-century missionaries, used the trade in native artifacts to help finance the operation of their missions. This remarkable collection, which included clothing and horse gear used by the Nez Perce Indians in the 1830s and 1840s, had been assembled by Henry Spalding and shipped by riverboat down the Snake and Columbia rivers to Fort Vancouver, thence by ship via the Hawaiian Islands and Cape Horn to Boston, and finally overland to Dr. Dudley Allen in Kinsmen, Ohio. In 1893, Dr. Allen's son donated this collection to Oberlin College, and in 1942, the Allen-Spalding collection was loaned to the OHS. In the late 1970s, the curator of Northwest Indian Art at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Bill Holm, learned of the existence of this collection and brought it to the attention of park officials. The park obtained the Allen-Spalding collection on the basis of a one-year renewable loan in 1980, and a generous selection of items from the collection became the focus of the visual interpretation of Nez Perce material culture in the new visitor center in 1983. [266]

While Shawley showed considerable acumen as a collector, he had little experience in designing museum exhibits. He was resourceful in expanding the exhibits in the temporary visitor center and in refurnishing the Watson's Store. However, when it came to planning the permanent exhibit in the new visitor center, Shawley encountered difficulties. Despite two years of collaborative effort between the park, the regional office, and Harpers Ferry Center, many problems developed in getting the permanent exhibits in place inside the new facility. The problems stemmed from a combination of inadequate planning and poor workmanship by the contractor. In September 1982, Harpers Ferry Center contracted with Promotion Products, Inc., to fix the myriad problems in the museum area. Regional Curator Kent Bush worked with a professional crew to plan the modifications, while Shawley was relieved of that duty. [267]

Shawley got into serious trouble as he resumed the task of cataloguing. During the period that the visitor center was under development, he had neglected his cataloguing duties and had allowed some of the collections to become mixed together. Other collections lacked adequate documentation to show whether the Park Service had acquired them by purchase or loan. By the end of 1981, Shawley had catalogued 700 objects and had properly completed 500 museum cards, while consigning numerous other items to museum clearinghouse lists. This headway notwithstanding, Superintendent Whitaker could only describe the park's museum records as a "quagmire." [268]

Whitaker was increasingly concerned about Shawley's job performance. Indeed, as the large backlog of curatorial work festered, Whitaker's trust in Shawley's professional integrity eroded. When one notable item disappeared and then reappeared, it raised suspicions. Shawley's former professor, Dr. Roderick Sprague, confided to Whitaker that he had concerns about Shawley occupying such an official position. In Sprague's estimation, Shawley had approached the study of anthropology at the University of Idaho from the perspective of a dealer, specializing too early in his hobby interest of Nez Perce material culture. The son of missionaries, Shawley had grown up with Nez Perce Indians and had a firsthand knowledge of their traditional material culture. As park curator, he had maintained his contacts with dealers of Indian artifacts. He was secretive and tended to treat the park collection as his own. [269] This raised the issue of whether Shawley possessed proper credentials to be a park museum curator. Professional standards for museum curation in the national park system changed significantly during the 1970s and 1980s; what had once been a field dominated by collectors was becoming more and more a field for the specialist with formal training in museology. [270] Shawley's background was no longer a good fit with the Park Service.

It took an additional two years for Whitaker to resolve this personnel problem. In 1983, Whitaker put Shawley under the supervision of Art Hathaway. The next year, she asked for a performance review of the park curator by the regional curator. Finally, in 1985, she requested an audit of museum management in the park by the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Both the performance review and the inspector general's report found major weaknesses in the park's internal control system for museum property. The OIG report presented nine separate actions for correcting these deficiencies. Under threat of indictment for theft of missing items, Shawley resigned in 1985. [271]

The two succeeding park curators, Susan Kopcynski (1986-1987) and Susan Buchel (1988-1994) implemented the OIG report's recommendations and began re-cataloguing all of the park museum holdings according to National Catalog standards. The latter was accomplished mainly through contracts with the University of Idaho Anthropology Laboratory. The regional curator wrote and administered the contracts while the park curator monitored the cataloguing operation on-site. By 1994, all objects had been adequately documented in the National Catalog, but accession records from 1965 to 1986 still contained many gaps in documentation. [272]

As the park's collection management program emerged from the morass in which the OIG found it in the mid-1980s, one of the outstanding problems concerned the future of the Allen-Spalding collection. This collection, with an appraised value of approximately $583,100, accounted for nearly a third of the total value of the park's museum holdings. More importantly, it formed the core of the park's collection of Nez Perce artifacts. As Superintendent Weaver explained to the Director of the Ohio Historical Society in 1988,

These early nineteenth-century objects serve not only as the focus of the visual interpretation at our park museum, but form the heart of our research collection. They represent the oldest known examples of historical Nez Perce material culture aside from the articles acquired by Lewis and Clark and exhibit cultural style, and decorative techniques long since lost. [273]

Weaver suggested that the OHS and the NPS negotiate new terms for this important accession, such as a long-term loan, donation, exchange, or purchase. The OHS did not respond to Weaver's letter, but simply renewed the yearly loan agreement.

In the spring of 1993, the park received a letter from the OHS requesting that the collection be returned to Ohio within three weeks. The OHS offered no prior warning nor any explanation. Park officials protested that they needed more time to package the materials and arrange for new exhibits in the visitor center; OHS representatives misunderstood and thought the park was refusing to cooperate. [274] From the ensuing discussions, it gradually became evident that the OHS was willing to sell the collection as long as it could recover something close to the collection's appraised value. The NPS, for its part, wanted to work with the Nez Perce Tribe as the most appropriate and desirable purchaser of the collection.

In September 1993, the General Council of the Nez Perce Tribe voted in favor of forming a committee on the Allen-Spalding collection comprising four tribal members, one member of NPTEC, and one NPS official. According to committee member Richard Ellenwood, the Park Service backed the tribe's efforts "110 percent." Negotiations proved rather delicate. The OHS's negotiating position appeared to change according to the internal politics of its board of directors. The Nez Perce Tribe, for its part, appealed to public opinion in support of its claim that the articles properly belonged in Nez Perce country, pointing out that Henry Spalding obtained the items for a tiny fraction of their present value. The tribe did not limit its appeal to Idaho citizens, but obtained radio air time in Ohio and contacted the Ohio governor to press its case. [275] By November 1995, negotiations had deadlocked. The Park Service removed the items from display in the visitor center and announced that it would soon begin packing the collection for shipment to Ohio. [276] In December the NPS, the tribe, and the OHS reached an agreement: the tribe would have until June 1996, to raise $608,100 with which to purchase the collection. The final price was based on the earlier appraisal and the addition of a cradle board which was part of the collection but had not been loaned to the NPS.

After six months and a national effort the tribe raised the necessary funds. On May 28 Tribal Chairman Samuel Penney and NPS Curator Robert Chenoweth went to Columbus, Ohio to deliver a check and receive the cradle board. The collection was welcomed back to Nez Perce country at ceremonies during the Chief Joseph and Warriors Memorial, at a special service at Spalding Presbyterian Church, and at the Park Headquarters. The collection was returned to display in June. It is owned by the Nez Perce Tribe and cared for and displayed by the NPS under a joint agreement.

Another collection that began to receive more staff attention in the late 1980s was the park's historic photograph collection. The collection was in disarray, with original and copy negatives and prints and snapshots attached to cards that usually had no identifying information. Hundreds of negatives located in the park files had never before been catalogued. The photograph collection provided an unusually intimate view of the Nez Perce people and received a growing amount of use from researchers outside the Park Service. Museum Curator Susan Buchel initiated an organization of this material in 1988. Tribal elder Allen Slickpoo, Sr., employed as a museum aid, identified many of the previously unknown people, events, and locations featured in the photographs. Slickpoo took some of the photographic images to knowledgeable sources in the community and to senior citizen centers in Lapwai and Kamiah. Two other Nez Perces on the park staff, Kevin Peters and Calvin Shillal, also assisted with the project. Elders of the Chief Joseph Band in Nespelem identified photographic images in 1990. After they were identified, all photographic subjects were cross-referenced and entered into a computer database, and the personal name index came to include more than 1,000 entries. The photographs continue to be one of the most heavily used resources among the park's collections. [277]

Surprisingly, problems relating to museum storage space were not entirely alleviated with the completion of the new visitor center. The building contained three large rooms in the basement for museum storage, but these filled up quickly. Several large furnishing items that had been stored in the Watson's Store were moved to the new building along with all the other collections that had been held in scattered locations. Moreover, the building's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system were housed in the same space as museum storage. Indeed, one of the rooms, Vault B-3, was flooded in December 1983, and about 250 objects came in contact with water. Regional Curator Kent Bush recommended $18,000 in improvements to the ceiling, walls, and floors of these storage rooms to bring them closer to museum standards. The park staff was provided with guidelines for preventive maintenance to safeguard against future problems with the HVAC system. [278] Flooding problems in Vault B-3 have persisted.

Adequate storage, not just for the museum collection but for various supplies associated with all phases of park operations, became more acute over time. As a result, the park administration built a new storage building in 1995. Measuring 90 x 40 feet and located by the maintenance shop, the building would provide storage area for supplies and equipment related to interpretation, maintenance, visitor protection, and administration, together with a few large objects from the museum collection. It would also house the park's fire truck, heavy maintenance equipment, and riding mowers. This new structure alleviated storage problems in the basement of the visitor center. [279]

In recent years, two staff reorganizations have had a significant effect on the collections management program. In 1988, Superintendent Weaver sought to increase the level of resource protection in the park with the establishment of two new divisions for natural and cultural resources. The position of park curator was reclassified to include management of the Cultural Resources Division. In 1991, responsibility for the park library was transferred from the Interpretive to the Cultural Resources Division. While the staff reorganization increased the level of protection for cultural resources as a whole, it reduced the amount of staff time available for collections management. To correct this deficiency, the park gained a full-time Museum Technician position and a part-time Librarian position. Under the new organization, the library grew from an interpretive staff resource into a public-service research facility. The library received additional funding through the regional office and donations from the Northwest Interpretive Association for the collection of dissertations, theses, rare books, and other items. [280]

In 1994, Superintendent Walker introduced the unit organization concept in Nez Perce National Historical Park and obtained approval of a revised organizational structure/position management plan ( Chapter 8). That plan called for a Cultural Resource Management Specialist, Museum Curator, Museum Technician, and Library Technician to staff the Cultural Resources Division within the Park Support Unit based at Spalding. In March 1996, the Cultural Resource Management Specialist position remained to be filled. [281]

Historic Structures and Landscapes

Nez Perce National Historical Park's limited number of historic buildings received strong emphasis in the park's early years. One year after the park was authorized, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 led to new guidelines for preservation of historic structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places. All national historical parks (including all Nez Perce sites) were automatically entered in the National Register even though documentation of the historic resources to National Register standards would be delayed for many years. More recently, the emphasis in Nez Perce National Historical Park has shifted from historic structures to historic landscapes.

Ideally, preservation of historic buildings begins with historical research on the buildings. Yet the Park Service inherited a number of historic structures in Nez Perce National Historical Park which required "emergency stabilization" before any historical research had occurred or even been programmed. The Agency Residence and Watson's Store at Spalding and the Officers Quarters at Fort Lapwai required fairly immediate attention to prevent further deterioration. In the case of the Officers Quarters, the NPS contracted with Royal Roofing Company of Lewiston to reshingle the roof, replace broken windows, and repair the chimneys before the building's history had been documented. While the building was being stabilized in 1971-1972, park officials learned that the rear of the building had been constructed first, and that the building's horizontal wood siding covered its original board and batten finish. Learning about a building's history as it was undergoing repair was not the ideal method of documentation, but it was preferable to letting the building deteriorate to an irreparable condition. [282]

These emergency repairs pointed to the urgent need for historical research. In the early 1970s, NPS historian Erwin Thompson produced three solid historic structure reports for Nez Perce National Historical Park in quick succession: Historic Resource Study: Spalding (1972), Historic Resource Study: Lapwai (1973), and Historic Structure Report: St. Joseph's Mission (1973). [283] Thompson based his reports on research in federal records repositories, church records held at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, and secondary literature. Historical Architect David G. Henderson provided architectural data for the buildings at Spalding and the St. Joseph's Mission in two companion reports in 1974. [284] These reports provided resource managers with a guide to the historical significance of various structures as well as preliminary recommendations on how the structures might be restored, relocated, or removed.

Following these studies, the Park Service worked on nearly all of the historic buildings in the park. At Spalding, the NPS restored the whole exterior and a portion of the interior of the Watson's Store, stabilized the Agency Cabin and moved it back to its original location, and undertook extensive rehabilitation of the agency's residence. Historical Architect Laurin C. Huffman of the regional office prepared a historic structure preservation guide for the latter building in 1977. [285] The NPS included funds for yearly maintenance of the St. Joseph's Mission in its cooperative agreement with the St. Joseph's Mission Historical Society. The NPS did not provide funds for restoration of the Pierce Courthouse, because the building was still privately owned.

The Park Service used these studies in determining which buildings to eliminate from specific sites to enhance the "historic scene." A number of residences and barns in the Spalding unit were demolished. The Park Service allowed two other buildings, a log cabin known as Poor Coyote's Cabin and a residence built during the Agency Period known as the Crawford House, to deteriorate until they were finally removed. [286] The Park Service tried to eliminate the Spalding postmaster's residence but met sharp local opposition. Petitioners argued that the building had local historical significance. Moreover, the building's elderly residents had no inclination to move to another house or abandon the Spalding Post Office. After unintentionally arousing local opposition, the Park Service decided instead to issue the residents, George and Clara Glasby, a special use permit to occupy the house on Park Service land. [287]

The emphasis on the Spalding unit's historic buildings in the 1970s revealed some of the limitations of this unusual national historical park. Not surprisingly, the Park Service channeled its limited resources into those sites and buildings that it actually owned. Resource management plans did not even address the cooperative sites prior to 1987, but focused exclusively on the four NPS-owned sites of Spalding, East Kamiah, White Bird Battlefield, and Canoe Camp. The emphasis on historic buildings also tended to accentuate the park's rather eclectic character. The Park Service demolished old residences and barns in its effort to recreate the historic scene around the mission site at Spalding, yet it preserved the Agency Cabin, Agency Residence, and Watson's Store because each of those buildings possessed historical significance. According to the Resource Management Plan for 1995, "Resources of different periods are often found in close proximity and create special management problems in trying to maintain one without affecting the integrity of another." [288]

During the 1980s, the Park Service began to develop cultural landscape studies for various Nez Perce sites. These studies sought to bring the park's assemblage of historic resources into a more unified whole and to clarify the constantly recurring questions about how to proceed when historic resources, representing different historical periods, overlapped and complemented one another.

The process started with a brief report in 1985 by Jim Romo of Oregon State University titled Landscape Overview and Vegetation Survey: Spalding Mission and East Kamiah. In 1987, the Regional Office initiated a more ambitious historic landscape study focusing on the Spalding unit. The study team's report, completed in 1990, offered an alternative way to preserve and interpret the park's cultural features that would be more consistent with the central concept of the park as a depiction of a process of cultural and environmental change. The authors stated:

The Spalding unit of Nez Perce National Historical Park is a complex landscape that portrays evidence of human use and occupation spanning more than 10,000 years. Previous historical studies at Spalding have identified only two significant historic periods: a missionary era from 1838-1847; and an era associated with the occupation and administration of the area by the Indian Agency from 1860-1902. While current interpretation focuses on these two periods, the landscape itself suggests that other events and cultural activities have shaped the site. This has led to considerable confusion in regard to managing the "appropriate" historic scene and cultural context. One major thrust of this study is, therefore, to explore the potential significance of other historic periods, and to develop a landscape context for interpreting the full range of significant cultural resources at the site. [289]

Among the report's contributions, it brought further attention to the arboretum planted in 1936 in commemoration of Henry Spalding, arguing persuasively that the arboretum should be considered a significant cultural resource. The state park era, which lasted from 1936 to 1966, was another significant episode that should be recognized by the park's resource managers and interpreted for the public. The early monuments to Spalding told an interesting story of how commemorative efforts and park design had changed in the past seventy years. The report provided perspective and background information for park managers but it was not a detailed, prescriptive management plan. That still remained to be done. [290]


Many sites in Nez Perce National Historical Park contain archeological resources; a few, such as Weis Rockshelter, Lenore, and Hasotino Village, feature them. These sites form part of a larger matrix of archeological sites in Nez Perce country extending along the Snake and Clearwater rivers and into some upland areas. The history of archeological investigations in Nez Perce country is reviewed in a 1987 report prepared for the NPS by David H. Chance and Jennifer V. Chance with Elmer Paul, and this section draws upon that report. [291]

In a few locations archeological investigations predated the creation of Nez Perce National Historical Park, or at least the addition of that site to the park. The Weis Rockshelter site was discovered in 1960. B. Robert Butler of Idaho State College investigated the site during 1961-1962. Located about four miles up Rocky Canyon on the northern edge of the Clearwater Plateau, the Weis Rockshelter site led to other discoveries at the mouth of Rocky Canyon (Cooper's Ferry) and on nearby Rock Creek (Double-House site) which Butler investigated during 1963-1964. Together, these sites provide a record of occupation from 8,000 years to 2,000 years before present. [292] The Lenore site on the Clearwater River was discovered during archeological surveys conducted for the Idaho State Highway Department in the mid-1960s. The site contained evidence of occupation as early as 10,000 years before present, as well as a number of pit houses from a more recent phase of prehistory. Earl H. Swanson, Jr., also of Idaho State College, taught summer field schools at the Lenore site from 1967 to 1971. He described the site as one of the most significant archeological sites in the Pacific Northwest. In 1972, Governor Cecil Andrus recommended that the Lenore site be included in Nez Perce National Historical Park. In 1974, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1977 it was designated as a cooperative site within the Nez Perce National Historical Park. [293] Both the Weis Rockshelter and Lenore sites were included in the park because of what had already been revealed by archeological investigations.

The Park Service initiated its own archeological investigation in Nez Perce National Historical Park at the Spalding site in 1973. The project followed one year after the historic resource study by Erwin Thompson and was principally directed at learning more about the mission site through test excavations. Dr. Roderick Sprague of the University of Idaho headed the project and David Chance led the field crew of ten, all members of the Nez Perce Tribe. The excavations were made during April through June and focused on the mission house and its adjacent buildings, the grist mill, and the saw mill. Perhaps the most significant finding was that the mission site was more complex and extensive than had been supposed, containing evidence of an unusually large number of improvements compared to most other mission sites of the same period. The investigators also concluded that Spalding was an innovator, trying new techniques in each subsequent structure, and that he had not constructed the buildings with a view toward permanently settling in the area. [294]

The 1973 study also suggested that the Agency Cabin, though intact, had been moved from its original foundation. In 1975, the Park Service contracted with the University of Idaho to investigate this hypothesis further. The resulting report by Thomas M. Iverson confirmed that the structure was part of the Agency complex that occupied the site beginning in 1861, and that the building had been moved a short distance from its original location. [295]

The Park Service sponsored a second phase of archeological work at the Spalding unit in 1978-1979 as part of a mitigation plan for the development of the visitor center and access road. Test excavations during the summer of 1978 confirmed the locations of an agency office, Sutler's store, and other buildings documented in Thompson's 1972 report. They also revealed the existence of prehistoric resources. On the basis of these findings, the Park Service authorized more extensive excavations in the fall of 1978 and again in the spring of 1979. While the historic building sites yielded disappointingly little data, the investigators found evidence of occupation from about 10,500 years ago and parts of two pit houses dating from a later period. The earlier prehistoric remains, called the Lapwai Component, included animal bones and unusual stone tools. [296]

The archeological resources proved to be considerably more extensive than anticipated. Before they could be properly investigated, the University of Idaho exceeded its budget and the building contractor proceeded with road excavations that resulted in the destruction of a third and fourth pit house as well as the disturbance of several Nez Perce burials (see Chapter Two). Archeologist David Chance, who was in charge of the field work, pondered this project with the benefit of hindsight in 1984:

One lesson to be drawn from all of this is that an archaeologist in a "mitigation" program such as this should never make compromises on behalf of a sponsoring agency, but should let the agency take the entire burden of declaring the cut-off point. The second lesson is that project boundaries need to be viewed with extreme skepticism. The excavating contractor in this case went well outside the boundary, by as much as 50 ft. Third, one should not budget below cost simply because an agency finds itself faced with a far larger archaeological resource than it planned on. We fielded three seasons of excavation for above $60,000. This error made it quite impossible to meet deadlines, made it necessary to use funds from other sources to carry on with the project, and resulted in recrimination until the agency was presented with an analysis of the facts. [297]

The disturbance of the Nez Perce burials, a painful episode in itself, led to two more archeology projects. The first consisted of recovery of the burial remains and monitoring of further road excavation in the area, while the second consisted of mitigative excavation of a further section of a water line trench associated with the mission site. Finally, Chance did a small amount of further archeological testing of the grist mill site in 1986. [298]

In 1987, the Pacific Northwest Regional Office contracted with the University of Idaho to produce an overview of archeology in Nez Perce country and make recommendations for NPS management. The study, conducted primarily by David Chance, involved a literature search of known sites and walk-over surveys of the White Bird Battlefield, Weippe Prairie, and Musselshell Prairie sites. He was accompanied on the field surveys by tribal elder Elmer Paul. The three-day survey of the White Bird Battlefield revealed some interesting preliminary findings including what Chance interpreted to be breastworks and temporary soldier graves. [299] At the Weippe Prairie and Musselshell Prairie sites, Chance determined that there was potential to learn something about changing patterns of camas root harvesting in the historical period. [300]

Chance's survey of the White Bird Battlefield also revealed the fact that several Nez Perce burials had been vandalized. Chance notified Superintendent Weaver about the vandalism in 1987, and the two men concurred that the best alternative was to leave the disturbed burial sites alone since they were already partially revegetated. However, it was Elmer Paul's understanding that the burial remains were to be reinterred. In October 1989, Paul revisited the site and was dismayed to see no change. During the next several months, the park consulted with NPTEC, the tribe's Cultural Resource Program, and Regional Archeologist Jim Thomson to develop a preferred action. In May 1990, a party of NPS employees and Nez Perce tribal members spent two days reinterring the burial remains and then reseeding the area with native fescue. Afterwards, Museum Curator Sue Buchel traced the vandalism to a 1974 case incident record involving the "desecration of an Indian grave." Approximately 24 holes had been dug with a post hole digger. [301] Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident, but represented one of the primary threats to the archeological resources in Nez Perce National Historical Park.

Battlefield sites and the Spalding site were particularly susceptible to vandalism. Occasionally park officials apprehended people with metal detectors. Increasingly, the park worked with the tribe to improve the level of protection of these sites. Cooperation was especially important for all those sites that were not owned by the Park Service.

With the park additions in 1992, three battlefield sites in Montana came into Nez Perce National Historical Park, each with a history of archeological exploration. In the case of Big Hole Battlefield, archeological investigations were conducted as early as the 1950s and continued through the 1970s. NPS employees Don Rickey, Aubrey Haines, and Kermit Edmonds made careful collections of battlefield artifacts. In 1991, the Park Service received a grant from country-western singer Hank Williams, Jr., to conduct a more systematic archeological survey. Directed by Dr. Douglas D. Scott of the Midwest Archeological Center, this effort involved a thorough re-examination of the unit's collections as well as a metal-detecting survey of the entire battlefield. The survey drew some significant conclusions for management, including the location of tepees and events during the battle that indicated a need to acquire additional acreage at the site. It also provided valuable information for interpretation, confirming the disposition and movements of troops and warriors during the battle and the fact that Shoshones had mutilated the bodies of fallen Nez Perce. [302]

In 1994, the Rocky Mountain Region provided funding for Dr. Scott and the Midwest Archeological Center to prepare an Archeological Overview and Assessment for the Montana Nez Perce War Sites. Scott focused on the historical archeology, primarily associated with the Nez Perce War of 1877, and subcontracted with Ethos Consultants, Inc., of Havre, Montana, to conduct literature searches and assess the potential for the sites to contain prehistoric resources. [303]

Other sites had already received archeological investigation prior to being authorized as additions to the park in 1994. These included Hasotino Village and Buffalo Eddy. During the late summer of 1995, Ranger Teresa Soleski monitored a paleontological dig near Tolo Lake involving an undetermined number of prehistoric mammoths. At the end of the field season the significance of the site remained unclear.

In summary, the amount of investigation of archeological resources varies widely throughout Nez Perce National Historical Park. So far, the NPS has limited its own archeological investigations primarily to the Spalding and Montana battlefield sites. Although the NPS is in the process of documenting and assessing all past archeological investigations, much remains to be done.

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Last Updated: 01-Jun-2000