January 1997 Newsletter

Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail Foundation
P.O. Box 20197, Missoula, Montana, 59801

Copyright (c) 1996 by Steve F. Russell
Revised: Tue Jan 23, 1997

Nez Perce Trail Update by Dan Gard and Sandi McFarland
January 21, 1997

The NPNHT Foundation, working in conjunction with the Forest Service, National Park Service, BLM, and tribal officials, is making plans for a second Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail symposium. This event is tentatively scheduled for November of 1997. The exact date and location is being determined and will be announced soon. The first symposium, held in Lewiston, Idaho in October 1995, proved a tremendous success. Participants included historians, scholars, agency personnel, tribal members, trail groups, and interested individuals.

The NPNHT Foundation is planning an Officer's meeting in July. The meeting, tentatively scheduled to held in Missoula, Montana, will bring together Foundation officers Steve Russell (President), Charlie Moses, Jr. (Vice-President), Sandi McFarland (Secretary), and Dan Gard (Treasurer), to discuss a variety of NPNHT issues and plans. Interested persons should forward agenda ideas and suggestions to Steve Russell at P.O. Box 20197 Missoula, MT 59801.

The NPNHT Foundation can be found on the Internet! A host of Foundation and trail-related information is located there, including a trail map, membership invitation, Foundation calendar, mission statement, Board of Directors, bylaws, and a Foundation history. The site is hot-linked to a number of other Nez Perce and national trail websites. The address for the NPNHT Foundation is: www.public.istate.edu/~sfr/npnhtf/npnhtf.html. Check it out!

Highway signing for the official NPNHT auto route is nearing completion. State highway departments are installing the 32x24 inch two-tone brown signs as part of their route maintenance agenda. Mary Horstman, NPNHT Field Representative, negotiated MOU's with the governors and highway officials of states sharing the auto route, which include Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. In all, over 200 signs are being installed along the length of the 1,526-mile highway route. Watch for them!

Preparations are underway by the Beaverhead/Deerlodge and Salmon/Challis National Forests for publication of an auto-tour brochure to guide visitors along a segment of the NPNHT located in southwest Montana and eastern Idaho. Deb Gale, Recreation Forester on the Wisdom Ranger District, is producing the brochure using information compiled from a 2-year historical research program carried out by Christopher Hagelin and Dan Gard. The brochure shows the route and describes events that took place as the Nez Perce and pursuing military forces left the Big Hole battlefield and crossed the Big Hole, Horse Prairie, and Lemhi valleys in August of 1877. Portions of the NPNHT are located on land managed by the Forest Service. Publication of the auto-tour brochure is scheduled for June.

The Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), breed registry for the Appaloosa horse, sanctions various activities to promote the Appaloosa horse. One of their better known events is the Chief Joseph Trail Ride. Started 32 years ago, the Chief Joseph Trail Ride retraces the approximate route of the Nez Perce during their tragic flight from pursuing military forces in 1877. Each year the ApHC rides a 100-mile segment of the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail, a route stretching over 1,100-miles across portions of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This year marks the third time that riders from the ApHC have traversed the NPNHT. The group plans to begin where last year's ride ended, at the Big Hole National Battlefield. They plan to cross portions of the Beaverhead/Deerlodge and Salmon/Challis National Forests as they ride south through the Big Hole Valley to a termination point at Leadore, Idaho. An estimated 250 riders will take part, as well as 150 non-riders and support vehicles. The date for this years event is July 26 - August 2. For more information contact: Appaloosa Horse Club P.O. Box 8403 Moscow, ID. 83843.

This summer the University of Idaho is offering a hands-on course in which students will visit sites along the Nee Mee Poo Trail (NPNHT). The course, titled "The Nez Perce: Then and Now," offers a unique opportunity for in-depth study of the history and contemporary affairs of an American Indian tribe in the Pacific Northwest. The course surveys cultural, environmental, and political aspects of the Nez Perce people. Three field trips to the Nez Perce Reservation are planned, allowing students to visit archaeological, cultural, and historical sites. Students will also visit sites managed by Nez Perce National Historical Park, including White Bird Battlefield, Looking Glass Village, Old Fort Lapwai, and the Spalding Mission. In addition, they will attend the Chief Joseph Days Memorial Pow Wow in Lapwai, Idaho. Guest speakers include Allan Slickpoo, distinguished tribal historian and author of "Noon Nee-Me-Poo (We the Nez Perce)," representatives of the National Park Service, and officer of the Nez Perce Tribe. Dates are June 9-26. For more information call (208) 885-6237.

The Lolo National Forest, Nez Perce Tribe, and the National Park Service-Nez Perce National Historical Park (Spalding Unit), produced a cooperative exhibit for the 1996 Western Montana Fair in Missoula. The exhibit featured photographs of Nez Perce people and their way of life. It also included replicas and original pieces of artwork such as cornhusk bags, mocassins, and other items captured the attention of fair-goers. The multi-media class from Rattlesnake Middle School produced a touch-screen program titled "The Nee Me Poo" that helped visitors to better understand the historical and cultural significance of the Nez Perce people. A special feature of the exhibit was the Young Horseman Program of the Nez Perce Tribe. Under the direction of Rudy Shebala, the YHP crosses Akhal-Teke stallions with Appaloosa mares, producing a new breed known as the Nez Perce Horse.

Windspeaker, a Canadian aboriginal newspaper, ran an article in their January 1997 issue discussing the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail. Staff writer R. John Hayes descibes the history of the trail and the flight of the non-treaty Nez Perce in 1877. In the article, Hayes quotes NPNHT Foundation officer, Dan Gard, regarding portions of the trail still intact today. According to Gard, "There are portions of the trail that can be hiked, including pieces of actual trail tread located on the Wallowa-Whitman, Clearwater, and Lolo National Forests. However, since the physical evidence of the trail disappeared soon after the 1877 flight, much of today's designated route is an estimation based on historical accounts, research, and best guesses." Windspeaker has a circulation more than 17,000 and is published monthly by the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta.

The November issue of CRM BULLETIN carried an article on the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail. Titled "Tsoop-Nit-Pa-Lu and a Corridor of Change, the Nee Me Poo Trail," the article was written by Sandi McFarland. McFarland, an archaeologist on the Clearwater National Forest, is also secretary of the NPNHT Foundation and a long-time advocate for the trail. She served as a member of the Advisory Council, the group responsible for development and designation of the NPNHT. Sandi also served on the Interpretive Charrette group that developed the Trail's interpretive plan. The CRM BULLETIN is a professional magazine produced by the National Park Service highlighting stories concerning the protection, preservation, and conservation of our nation's heritage.

The NPNHT mobile displays are available for loan. These 8'x10' freestanding displays contain colorful maps, graphics, and historic information on the Nez Perce Trail. Perfect for schools, meetings, fairs, visitor centers, or special events, the displays are lightweight and easy to assemble. For more information, or to reserve the display, contact the Forest Service Northern Region Office at (406) 329-3226.

The NPNHT sale map has been reprinted and is available for sale. These 35x24 inch full color maps show the official trail route and provide an historic overview of key sites located along its 1,170-mile length. The maps cost S4 each and are available from the Lolo National Forest. For more information call (406) 329-3750.

Keith Thrulkill becomes new NPNHT Coordinator

Keith Thurlkill, USFS Northern Region Interpretive Specialist, is the new Trail Coordinator for the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail. Keith takes over the role held by Mike Beckes, Heritage Program Manager. Keith has extensive experience working with the NPNHT. He took part in the 1991 Nez Perce Trail dedication, a number of interagency and tribal coordination meetings, as well and a planning Interpretive Charette. Keith is currently working with various Lewis & Clark Bicentennial groups on long-range planning.

Nez Perce National Historic Park News by Frank Walker
January 21, 1997

General Management Plan

Nez Perce National Historical Park recently conducted 16 public meetings in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana concerning the draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement released to the public October 11, 1996. The purpose of the meetings was to answer questions and to help individuals better understand the impacts of the plan and how it might affect them. Over 500 people attended the meetings. The public comment period ended on December 11 with over 650 letters received from the public concerning the plan. Once each of the issues is adequately addressed, the final plan will be released later this spring.

The major public concern was about the proposed park boundaries which in some cases included private lands. The site boundaries proposed in the Draft GMP/EIS were completely voluntary upon the part of the landowner(s). The National Park Service was neither proposing to purchase privately-owned lands nor to force changes in land use within those proposed boundaries. Rather, once a site boundary was established, it will give the National Park Service the ability to work with individual landowners through a cooperative agreement to achieve the desired resource protection and visitor education objectives. During the public review period on the Draft GMP/EIS, landowners could request that they be removed from the proposed boundary. The final site boundaries will not be established without the willing support of all landowners within a particular boundary.

This week, there will be a roundtable review of the comments received and we should begin addressing the comments in the next few weeks.


Otis Halfmoon, the first permanent National Park Service ranger to be stationed at the Bear Paw Battlefield Site has accepted a reassignment to become the White Bird/Upper Clearwater Unit Manager of the park. Otis will be responsible for 15 of the 38 park sites including the White Bird Battlefield, Canoe Camp, Heart of the Monster and other cooperative sites located in Idaho. His office is located in the Grangeville Post Office. Halfmoon joined the NPS in 1990 at Big Hole National Battlefield and served as the Park Ranger there for 2 1/2 years. He then transferred to Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area as a Ranger before being assigned to Bear Paw in 1995. Otis takes Mark O'Neill's position following Mark's transfer to Olympic National Park in October. Otis says "I enjoyed my time in buffalo country the last six years, but it feels good to be home once again". The park plans to fill Otis's position at Bear Paw later this spring.