Saturday, May 16, 2015

Missionaries to Nez Perce buried on reservation

Visitor center mural
A must-stop for tourists traveling U.S. Highway 95 between Grangeville and Lewiston, Idaho, is the Spalding Visitor Center a few miles from Lewiston.

The Spalding Visitor Center is located in a serene setting alongside the Clearwater River. It is part of the four-state Nez Perce National Historical Park that is operated jointly by the National Park Service and the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. The park includes numerous sites in Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon that have historical significance to the Nez Perce tribe.

The visitor center shows a 23-minute film about the Nez Perce and what the tribe is doing today to preserve its cultural heritage. It also has a small, but excellent, collection of tribal dress, implements and other items used by the tribe over the centuries.

Located on the Nez Perce reservation, this site takes in the mission established by Henry and Eliza Spalding who came here following the massacre at the Whitman Mission in Walla Walla, Washington.  The couple is buried at the Lapwai Mission Cemetery, which is still an active cemetery,

The tall headstone belongs to the Spaldings
There’s a picnic area across from the cemetery. Just before crossing a wooden bridge to get here stands the house used by the superintendent of the Indian Agency. A trail through the original town site starts here. Not too far away is the Watson’s General Store, which specialized in merchandise, such as beads and canvas for tepees, the Indians needed, but also carried general merchandise.

The site also offers several easy walking trails throughout this section of the park.  It’s also a good place to go bird watching, where great blue herons, osprey and kingfisher, among other bird species, can be seen.

Park celebrates 50th anniversary

Nez Perce cultural day
Nez Perce National Historic Park celebrated its 50 anniversary May 16, 2015. Part of the day's activities included a cultural day hosted by the Nez Perce tribe at the Spalding visitor center's picnic area. Tribal members in their native regalia rode horses around the main tent; they were accompanied by four men singing and beating a drum.  At another tent, a woman explained about the roots, berries and other plants that were used in traditional foods and healing.

You can view a short video of the opening ceremony on my Youtube channel.

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