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Nez Perce National Historical Park

Long before Lewis and Clark ventured west; before the English established a colony at Jamestown; before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the 'new world', the Nez Perce, who called themselves Nimiipuu, lived in the prairies and river valleys of north Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  The stories of the Nez Perce tell us that they have been part of this landscape since time immemorial; they have always been here.  Nez Perce National Historical Park commemorates the contributions the Nez Perce have made and help protect and preserve sites, stories, and artifacts associated with their history and culture.

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A Park about a People, For all People

The Park encompasses 38 Sites - Scattered Among Four States

An auto tour of the entire park is more than 1,000 miles in length through Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. Nez Perce National Park Visitors Guide and map.




Lewis and Clark Among the Nez Perce


 William Clark first encountered the Nez Perce Nation on September 20, 1805

" proceeded on through a beautiful Country for three miles to a small Plain in which I found many Indian lodges... those people gave us a Small piece of Buffaloe meat, some dried berries & roots in different states... we ate heartily"   Captain Clark

Description of Nez Perce as noted in Captain Clark's Journal Entry
September 20, 1805

"They call themselves Cho Pun-nish or Pierced Noses; their dialect appears very different from the Flatheads, darker than the Flatheads, similiar dress with more beads that are white and blue, brass and copper in different forms, shells and wear their hair in the same way..."

Friendly to Lewis and Clark

Nez Perce tradition says that they first considered killing the members of the Corps of Discovery but were persuaded by a woman who first met white men while a prisoner of Indians in Canada and was kindly treated by them

"those people were glad to see us, one had formerly been taken by the Minetares of the north & seen white men..." Captain Clark -  September 21, 1805

May 5, 1806 Captain Lewis - " this is the residence of one of 4 principal Cheifs of the nation whom the call Neesh - ne, - park - ke - ook of the cut nose from the circumstance of his nose being cut by the snake indians with a launce in battle.  to this man we gave a medal * of the small size with the likeness of the President" 

Peace Medal * The mouth of Potlatch River, at Arrow, was the location of the discovery of a Jefferson medal in 1899.  This and the Jefferson medal found at Palus are the only ones known to have been found west of the continental divide in a clear context with Indian burials.  The Palus find is no longer at Washington State University but was returned to the Nez Perce tribe in 1968.  The American Numismatic Society, New York City, still holds the burial find from Arrow.  SOURCE: The Definitive Journals of Lewis and Clark, Vol. 7: From the Pacific to the Rockies  pgs 213-215



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GPO 1991-557-779

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