|Inside This Issue:
2003 Annual Meeting
Administrative Assistant’s Corner
Ninth PNTS Conference
Fires Impact NPNHT
NPNHT Administrator Announces
What’s New? Why Our Name
Lolo Pass Visitor Center Dedication
USFWS Looking Glass Monument
Gallatin National Forest’s Sites
My Trip to Yellowstone
Chief Joseph Trail Ride 2003
Riding the Nee-Me-Poo
A Glimpse of the Past
On August 1, 2003, President Paul Wapato extended a greeting to all attendees. After introducing Jude Sheppard, Blaine County Museum Curator, we toured the Blaine County Museum. Meeting attendees then got to go to the Bear Paw Battlefield to witness the arrival of the Chief Joseph Trail Riders. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Mr. Jim Magera taking a Lean Elk descendant to where Lean Elk’s tepee was and where Lean Elk had been killed. We joined the Chief Joseph Trail Riders for an excellent salmon dinner that night.
On August 2, 2003, our three invited speakers, Leroy Anderson, Jim Magera, and George Kush gave informative presentations. During the following presentations from the Forest Service and National Park Service we learned that the cultural tree site near Buckhorn Overlook, Imnaha Canyon was recently given State Heritage Site status. Robert West, Bear Paw Battlefield Superintendent,presented a model of the future visitor center. Jon James, Big Hole Battlefield Superintendent, also informed us that the battlefield is now National Park Service Land.
At the business meeting Paul Wapato-President, Charlie Moses, Jr.-Treasurer and Brian McCormack-Secretary retained their offices. Crystal White was elected our new vice president. It was also decided to change our name to Nez Perce Trail Foundation.
Recently we added a page with merchandise for
sale called the “Trading Post”. We have also added a page called FAQ
for questions that people send to us, as well as a point of interest
page. Send comments, articles, photos, art work or ideas to
Hi. This spring and summer saw me very busy traveling to different memorials, conferences and presentations. My big trip this summer was traveling in August to Chinook, Montana for the Annual Meeting. It was very awe inspiring to see 300 Chief Joseph Trail Riders ride into the Bear Paw Battlefield.
One of my most interesting moments was while I was giving a presentation to some youngsters at the Weippe Library in Weippe, Idaho. I was telling them about Lewis and Clark’s first meeting of the Nez Perce near Weippe. One little boy raised his hand excitedly to tell us that his grandmother owned that piece of land.
One of my favorite projects has been working on the website. I hope to continue adding information to the website periodically.
I have also enjoyed working with school children sharing the history of the Trail. I have a Power point presentation for children that I hope to get the opportunity to use.
The Ninth Conference on National Scenic & Historical Trails was held this year in Bow, Washington, on August 21 through August 25, at the Skagit Valley Casino. This intriguing meeting, sponsored by the Partnership for the National Trails System, brings together the government agencies and the partner nonprofit organizations concerned with National Scenic and Historical Trails, as well as representatives of those trails seeking designation as National Scenic or Historic Trails.
Since the Conference was much closer to home for us this year, the Foundation sent all four officers, including our newly elected Vice-President, Crystal White.
The host organization this year was the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, a very energetic group based in Mount Vernon, Washington which is making a strong effort to have their trail designated as a National Scenic Trail. The PNTA did an excellent job of arranging the conference facilities and providing nine interesting local field trips for attendees.
The Partnership staff again organized a valuable program of speakers and workshop sessions, which aided in understanding the agencies, their programs and the laws that govern them. Other sessions were aimed at improving skills needed by members of the partner organizations.
“Leo’s Auction” is a tradition on the closing evening of these conferences. This year, the Foundation contributed a traditional Nez Perce wing dress made by Ruth Wapato. To her surprise and our delight, it was the star of the auction.
A dry lightning storm went through the Powell area on August 7 igniting over 50 new fires with the majority of these fires located along the Nez Perce National Historical Trail. The Beaver Lake Complex Fire burned over the trail. Some of the culturally peeled trees were wrapped with foil for protection. It was found that there was one burned culturally peeled tree near the Lost Lakes Trailhead.
Earlier this summer a fire threatened the Big Hole National Battlefield closing the highway into the Battlefield, however the fire did not enter the Battlefield. In fact we were afraid the Big Hole Memorial was going to be cancelled, but thanks to mother nature and some hard working fire fighters we were able to proceed.
The Nez Perce National Historical Trail has some new informational items.
The auto tour brochure which interprets the segment of the trail from Greer, Idaho to Lolo, Montana along Highway 12 is now available to the public. It also covers the segment along the Lolo Motorway from Weippe Prairie to Lolo Hot Springs, Montana. The brochure includes a map showing modern day highways and recent historical and archaeological research. This version is full color, glossy brochure.
There is also a new large room display for use at meetings, conferences, and special events. The highlight of the display is a large colorful historic map showing the entire trail.
Another item that is available is the presentation folder. These very nice folders will serve those hosting Nez Perce National Historic Trail meetings, conferences, or other events where a variety of trail information can be placed.
Yes, it was brought up earlier this summer that for marketing purposes it might be smart for the Nez Perce National Historical Trail Foundation to shorten the name to Nez Perce Trail Foundation. The Administrative Assistant was very much in favor of the shorter name. Ever try answering the phone “Good Morning, Nez Perce National Historical Trail Foundation…” Let me tell you it was more than a mouthful.
So along came the annual meeting in August where it was brought up to change our name. The motion to change the name from Nez Perce National Historical Trail Foundation to Nez Perce Trail Foundation was made. A vote was taken and it was unanimous to change the name to Nez Perce Trail Foundation. This change was made effective immediately.
Honoring the past, present and future of the ancient path over the Bitterroot Mountains, the new Lolo Pass Visitor Center was dedicated on June 27, 2003. Participants celebrated culture and history. Nez Perce Tribal Elder Horace Axtell gave the opening prayer after the Presentation of Colors. Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop, and Regional Forester Brad Powell were present. Tribal leaders including Nez Perce Tribal Executive Council Chairman Anthony Johnson and our own Charlie Moses, Jr. offered traditional lessons. Paul Wapato also introduced the Foundation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the NPNHT Administrator, purchased a new stone monument to replace the original historic 1928 L.V. McWhorter plaque. The monument at Kooskia Fish Hatchery Interpretive site near Kooskia, Idaho, marks the significance of the event surrounding the Chief Looking Glass Village during the Nez Perce War of 1877.
On July 1, 2003 the new monument and plaque were dedicated with a special presentation by the USFWS, NPNHT Administrator, Nez Perce Tribe and descendants of the Looking Glass Family.
The text on the plaque reads “To the everlasting memory of the brave warriors Chief Joseph’s band who fought on these grounds in the Nez Perce War of 1877. CCC. Erected by Nez Perce Indians and the Chief Joseph Memorial Association June, 1928.”
The Gallatin National Forest embarked on a project to design wayside interpretation of the NPNHT at two locations along the auto tour route. One is just east of Cooke City, along the Beartooth Scenic Byway and the other is at Targhee Pass, west of West Yellowstone on the Idaho-Montana border. The goal is to complete the design, fabrication and installation of the interpretation for the Beartooth site. Since both of these sites border Yellowstone National Park the goal is for coordinated interpretation. Rosemary Sucec, Cultural Resource Specialist for Yellowstone National Park, shared her discussions with Tribal Representatives. She suggested issues relevant for consideration. The Beartooth Scenic Byway site was visited. Ways to improve the Montana State wayside panel were discussed.
Two potential wayside sites were visited within Yellowstone National Park. These two sites are at the obsidian cliff and a site near Nez Perce Creek.
The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center is currently finishing up their USDA grants on the Homeland site near the city of Wallowa that includes trail completion, signage, elders tree grove, placement for bronze interpretive placard, foundation documentation, master plan revision, and conditional use permit with the county planning board that covers the additional 160 acres. The local Rotary Club and the Nature Conservancy are hoping to help with the seating at the arbor.
Tamkaliks Celebration was a great success as well as the Nez Perce Art in the Wallowa
A general board meeting is scheduled for the 25th of October in Nespelem to discuss the longhouse plans which have been moving forward.
Until I became a member of the Nez Perce Trail Foundation, Yellowstone National Park was a wonderful place to visit with many wondrous things to see. I never connected it to the many Indian tribes who lived in Yellowstone, who hunted and fished in Yellowstone or those who traveled through this region. The Nez Perce often passed through Yellowstone to visit their friends, the Crow. It was a place that the many different tribes carried on trade with each other. It is calculated that at least 26 Indian tribes were associated with Yellowstone.
It is my opinion that we need to make it known that Chief Joseph, his warriors, women and children passed through Yellowstone during the plight with the US Army. Chief Joseph is known internationally. His story, the War of 1877, catches one’s attention. His story has epic proportions. His story is that of many tribes. He did not want to give up his land, his culture, his freedom, so he took on the powerful United States. Therefore, the signs should show mainly the war path with mention of the other Indians associated with Yellowstone.
Perhaps I am biased in saying the Chief Joseph war story should be emphasized instead of the fact that many tribes are connected with Yellowstone for thousands of years. My grandfather was in the 1877 War. I want his story told. I want the story of the suffering of the women and children told. In Chief Joseph’s own words, “Good words do not last long until they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people.”
Allowing the Nez Perce Tribe to tell the story of the desperate journey through Yellowstone to escape the US Army, will help ease the pain in our hearts.
On January 10, 2004 the Foundation is planning to have a Winter Board Meeting at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute near Pendleton, Oregon. Members are invited to also attend. Please mark your calendars. As more arrangements get finalized we will be sending emails and letters to keep you informed about this meeting.
I wanted to ride the Nez Perce trail and decided to ride with the Appaloosa Horse Club’s annual trail ride which covers about 100 miles each year. We left home in our truck and camper pulling a 2 horse trailer with 2 Appaloosa horses. It took us 14 hours to drive from Nespelem, Washington to the first campsite northeast of Lewistown, Montana. Although it was a long day of driving, it was nothing compared to the 1300 mile ride our ancestors did traveling from the Wallowa country in Oregon to the Bear Paw Battlefield.
Sunday, we woke up to an amazing sight of over 300 people and 300 Appaloosa horses of all colors. We rode our horses to give them some exercise after the 14 hours in the trailer. My green broke 4 year old acted like a colt. Margaret’s borrowed Appaloosa was pretty good. After an hour ride we settled down in camp and started meeting people. We rode again in the afternoon and then were briefed on the ride.
Monday, we woke up early, had breakfast, prepared our lunch and saddled up. My horse did a little war dancing. Several horses got loose at lunch break and caused excitement as the horses ran full speed through camp running into other horses and people standing or sitting around having lunch. The Breaks of the Missouri River with dry bunch grass and cactus were not pretty, but it gave one a feeling for the country the Nez Perce had to travel at the end of that long ride in 1877.
Tuesday, we reached the Missouri Breaks and descended some 1400 feet from the rim to the bottom, two abreast, and we were stretched out about half a mile. We could see down into the canyon, and it was truly a spectacular view. We rode up Cow Creek and had lunch. We continued up Cow Creek for several miles and then started up a ridge to the top of the rim where the Nez Perce ascended the valley. The entire valley was walled by steep clay cliffs and small canyons. As we rode up Cow Creek, I often thought of the Nez Perce men and women who followed this same trail in 1877. After dinner, I presented a short program about the Nez Perce National Historic Trail Foundation, the Chief Joseph Band and a little about my life. I dressed in my buckskin outfit with war bonnet and took pictures with several people.
Wednesday, we continued our ride across the prairie to the next camp. Water was scarce, and I wondered what our people did for water in 1877. Both of our horses developed small welts, so we decided not to ride the next day.
Thursday, we drove our camper to the next camp site. I was asked by several people to put on my buckskin outfit and have pictures taken with them, and I did as I passed out literature on the trail.
Friday, we headed towards the battlefield. We had lunch about a half mile from the battlefield. The Nez Perce put on their regalia and led the procession into the battlefield. Camp was set up on the flat bottom just west of the main battle site. The Nez Perce conducted their pipe ceremony. We had dinner.
To ride a small part of the sacred trail was truly a rewarding experience. The only way to appreciate the hardship our people experienced is to ride the entire length of the trail. I want to thank the organizers of the ride for a job well done and the respect they showed the Nez Perce. I dedicate my work to our ancestors who were forced to take this trail away from their homeland with the hope that they would avoid war and live in peace in Buffalo country or in Canada.
Gene and Mollie Eastman have been riding the Nee-Mee-Poo Trail (Forest Service Trail 40) for fifteen years. Many changes have occurred to the trail location since 1988. The location of the old historic trail is a must to follow the original 1877 War route.
One of the most scenic and lonely stretches of the trail can be found between Siberia Creek and Dutchman Creek. This section of abandoned trail can be followed with difficulty by taking a side ridge from the 1907 Forest Service Trail and riding north to the old historic trail, then east on the Lolo Trail to where it connects with the early 1990’s trail near Dutchman Creek, which continues to Lolo Forks on the 1877 war trail.
At Lolo Forks take the old 1920’s Yoosa Creek Trail to Forest Service Road 5019. The old Nee-Mee-Poo Trail goes from Lolo Forks straight up the backbone of a spur ridge. It is worthwhile for the traveler to walk this interesting piece of abandoned trail with tight little switchbacks and a deeply worn trail tread.
North of Lolo Forks in some places the rider will find heavy brush and small trees on the old trail. Some sections of the original trail are maintained, other sections are now abandoned and the trail has been reconstructed, and relocated. This very scenic trail takes the horseman to Camp Martin.
From Camp Martin the old historic trail goes straight up to the top of Snowy Summit. However most of this trail has been obliterated, and the horseman will have to take the 1992 switchback trail to the top of Snowy Summit. The new trail goes on and off the historic trail in places. East to Beaver Dam Saddle the trail follows the 104 Road for about 400 yards before leaving the road. The historic trail can be followed east for most of the way if the traveler is aware of which of the two trails to follow, the newly constructed trail on the side of the ridge or the ridge top trail. This area is through a mature forest and one can find a few dead lodgepole pine trees that have scars and knife marks where the Nez Perce peeled the cambium layer for food.
From Beaver Dam Saddle the trail is obliterated for about 400 yards. The new trail is below the historic trail with climbing turns and switchbacks on a gentle grade, then connects to the historic trail. At this junction the historic trail continues through old growth mountain hemlock. After going ¾ mile the trail comes out on the 500 Road. From here to near Rocky Ridge Lookout Road the trail has been built over the top of by the 1933 road builders or has been abandoned, and is very difficult to follow on a horse, but can be easily found, or located by the old single path trail ditch. Portions of the old trail can be easily found and followed over the top of Rocky Ridge. East of the Rocky Ridge Lake Road the trail consists of both early 20th century trail and original historic Nee-Mee-Poo Trail. There is a newly constructed wooden bridge at Weitas Meadows that crosses the boggy meadow. From the wooden bridge east the horseman follows a newly constructed trail for a few hundred yards before coming to a trail junction. Here the older trail coming from Weitas Meadows was abandoned. From this trail junction east for about one mile the horseman is on the early 20th century trail to the first saddle where the historic trail again may be found and followed to Green Saddle.
The Nee-Me-Poo Trail has more miles of continuous, intact historic trail tread than any other historic trail in America. The Landmark Trail, first recognized and protected in 1960, when the Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark was established, begins in Lolo, Montana and continues to Weippe, and Kamiah Idaho. A good understanding of the trail systems between Musselshell Meadows and Green Saddle is a must to follow the historical trail as closely as possible. 8.6 miles of the historic trail is open, 10.2 miles of the historic trail obliterated or closed, and 4.2 miles of the historic trail replaced in the late 1890s and the 1930s by roads. Some of the trail has been clearcut, some of it is in old growth, and some of it is on roads. Be prepared to step over or jump logs, and have the experience of a lifetime!
Non-treaty Nez Perce leaders meet with General Howard and agree to move peacefully onto the reservation. Some 36 days later fighting breaks out near the Salmon River beginning the four month war.
Left to Right Back Row: Huis Huis Kute, Chief Looking Glass, Too-Hool-Hool-Zote (the Dreamer Chief), Chief Joseph, Chief White Bird (White Pelican), Ollokot (War Chief, Joseph’s brother), General Howard, Emily Fitzgerald, Charles Monteith (Translator, Clerk), Settler, Howard’s Aid (Cavalry), Howard’s Aid (Infantry), John Monteith (Indian Agent). Left to Right Front Row: Nez Perce Warriors and Women
The Nez Perce Trail