Ida Blackeagle (1897 1976). From 1966 to 1976, Ida Blackeagle was a cultural demonstrator at Nez Perce National Historical Park. She was an accomplished weaver and well known for her cornhusk bags. Blackeagle began weaving at the age of 12 and in her later years taught many younger women weaving skills. It would typically take her 160 hours or two months, working four hours a day, five days a week, to weave a small bag. Her husband, Joseph Blackeagle, was a grand nephew of Chief Joseph and a member of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Council.
George Catlin (circa 1796 1872). Catlin was a prolific artist who specialized in portraits of Native Americans. He was a self taught artist and produced close to 600 paintings and sketches of landscapes, cultural scenes, and individual portraits. Catlin captured on canvas two Nez Perce men returning from St. Louis in 1832 while on a Missouri River boat. The portraits of Rabbit-Skin-Leggings and No-Horns-On-His-Head hang in the Smithsonian today.
Chief Joseph (c 1840 - 1904). Chief Joseph was a headman of one of the Nez Perce Wallowa bands that were forcibly removed from their homeland in 1877. Known as Joseph the younger, his father had been baptized by Rev. Henry Harmon Spalding in 1838. Despite doubts he may have had, Joseph the elder put his mark on the 1855 Treaty, but in the aftermath became extremely dissatisfied with the behavior of the government. With the discovery of the gold on the reservation, another Treaty council was called, but Joseph the elder refused to participate. The Wallowa’s were bargained away and fell outside of the boundaries of the new reservation.
Joseph was taught by his father the value of his homeland and especially after his father died in 1871, Joseph took on his father’s mantle and for the next few years vainly negotiated to keep the Wallowa’s as Nez Perce land. In 1877, General Oliver Otis Howard issued an ultimatum and ordered the Wallowa bands to the Nez Perce Reservation. Given the prominent role that Joseph played in the negotiations prior to the beginning of hostilities, the press assumed he was the mastermind behind the 1877 campaign. In all likelihood, Joseph was not a war chief, but did tend to his people during the course of hostilities. At the battle and siege at Bear Paw, in October 1877, with many of the chiefs dead, Chief Joseph negotiated an end to hostilities and made his famous speech that included his now famous words, “I shall fight no more forever.”
After 1877, Joseph and his band were exiled first to Kansas and then to Oklahoma where they remained until 1885. Despite pleas to be returned to the Wallowa’s, the U.S. government sent Joseph’s band to eastern Washington and the Colville Confederated Reservation. He continued to lead the Wallowa band until his death in 1904.
Chief Timothy (1808 - 1891). Chief Timothy was an early convert to Christianity and was baptized by Henry Spalding and remained a stalwart supporter. He provided assistance to Spalding and remained a friend of the Euro-American settlers who were coming into the area. In the aftermath of the killing of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman at their mission near Walla Walla, Timothy rescued Spalding’s daughter. During the unrest after the 1855 Treaty, Timothy assisted Colonel Edward Steptoe and helped lead his column to safety after being besieged by Cayuse and Palouse warriors. Timothy’s band lived on the Snake River, just above present day Lewiston and was one of the Nez Perce leaders to sign the 1863 treaty. Timothy did not participate in the 1877 war and died in 1891.
Chief White Bird (1807 - 1892). White Bird played a prominent role in the 1877 conflict. White Bird’s band was able to escape Bear Paw in the confusion that followed the end of the fighting. He led his band to Canada and Fort Walsh, where they camped in the shadow of Chief Sitting Bull’s camp of Lakota. Many in White Bird’s band, however, began to leave Canada within a year to return home. By the 1890s, only a few families remained in Canada. In 1892, White Bird was murdered by another Nez Perce.
Alice Fletcher (1838-1923). Alice Fletcher was an ethnologist and reformer. Her work as an ethnographer with the Omaha and Nez Perce Tribes led to her appointment as a special agent to allot lands per the Dawes Act. She was a well know and respected ethnographer and worked at the Peabody Museum, and was President of the Anthropological Society.
Doug Hyde (1946 - Present). He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during which time Hyde enjoyed the tutelage and friendship of the late renowned Apache sculptor, Allan Houser. In 1967 he attended the San Francisco Art Institute on scholarship for a time before enlisting in the U.S. Army. During his second tour of duty in Viet Nam, he was very seriously wounded by a grenade. During his recuperation he learned the use of power tools in the cutting and shaping of stone while working in a friend's tombstone business, all the while continuing his art education and sculpting at night. Finally he entered some of his sculpture for a show sponsored by the Northern Plains Indian Museum in Browning, Montana. When his work sold out, he realized that he was now ready to make his mark and that Santa Fe was to be his base of operations. Returning to Santa Fe in 1972 to teach at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he brought with him experience and knowledge as well as a desire to learn all he could about other native cultures. His works, sculpted in bronze or stone, frequently represent the stories told to him during his youth or portray more historical events. His works may be viewed in the collections of the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Heard Museum, Museum of the Southwest, Southwest Museum, Gilcrease Museum, Eitelborg Museum, and the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, among others. In 1990 the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sponsored a retrospective exhibit of his work
Mylie Lawyer (1912 - 2006). On March 24, 1912 Mylie Lawyer was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Agency, South Dakota to Corbett and Lillian Allman Lawyer. Corbett worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and her mother was a teacher. Her paternal ancestors included Chief Lawyer and Twisted Hair, who was one of the first Nez Perce to meet Lewis and Clark when they entered Nez Perce country.
After Mylie was born, the family returned to Lapwai where Mylie grew up. She graduated from Lapwai High School in 1929 and for the next five years attended Oregon State University and Willamette University where she graduated with a degree in Home Economy. Her first job was with the BIA at Warm Springs Indian Reservation teaching home economics. She worked in a variety of positions and eventually became assistant principal at the Warm Springs School. Mylie was later was assigned to Stewart Indian School, a national Indian boarding school, near Carson City, NV.
At a time when many women could not attend college, Mylie prospered in her career. She became a kind of trouble-shooter for the BIA and acquired a reputation for problem solving until she retired in the late 1940s to care for her mother and father in Lapwai. Mylie became the family historian by virtue her education and keen interest in family life. S he became the keeper of family records, papers, old photos and artifacts associated with both her Sioux and Nez Perce sides. Her interest, knowledge and sharp memory, made her an invaluable resource.
Lucullus Virgil McWhorter (1860-1944). He was an amateur ethnographer who chronicled the lives of many of survivors from the Nez Perce War of 1877. McWhorter’ work was published in the biography of the Nez Perce warrior Yellow Wolf and his posthumously published work, Hear Me My Chiefs. He collected oral histories from survivors and took the first steps to help preserve many of the battlefields of the war.
Elmer Paul (1920 - 1994). Elmer Paul was a cultural consultant for the Washington State University and the University of Idaho. Beginning in 1982, in his capacity as an advisor, he provided assistance in mapmaking, the Nez Perce language, history and culture. He was also an accomplished craftsman and made drums and shields. Paul was born in Stites, Idaho, raised in Lapwai and after serving in the U.S. Army in World War Two, he became a lifelong resident of Stites.
Josiah Redwolf (1873-1971). A member of the Looking Glass band, he was the last survivor of the 1877 war. Redwolf was five years old when he lost is mother and infant sister at Big Hole. After attending school in Oklahoma, he went to the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle Pennsylvania. He became an accomplished musician, worked as a cobbler at the Indian School in Lapwai, Idaho and did some farming. Redwolf attended the dedication of the visitor center at Big Hole National Battlefield in 1968.
Asa Smith (1809-1886). Asa Bowen Smith was born in Williamstown, Vermont, July 16, 1809. He attended the University of Vermont and in 1832 transferred to Middlebury College and received his B.A. there in 1834. From 1834 to 1836 he attended Andover Theological Seminary, and then transferred to Yale Divinity School. While attending Yale he was also able to attend medical lectures. Smith graduated in 1837. While in Seminary he preached at the Congregational church in Woodbridge, near New Haven. He was ordained a Congregational Minister in November, 1837 and quickly volunteered for foreign missionary service. March 15, 1838 Smith married Sarah Gilbert White, the daughter of missionary parents and set out for Oregon with three other couples; the Grays, Rev. and Mrs. Elkanah Walker and Rev. and Mrs. Cushing Eells.
The Smiths chose to establish their mission station in Kamiah after some internal struggle with Whitman. The Smiths moved to Kamiah in the summer of 1839 and began their missionary activities. Smith adopted the missionary alphabet used in Hawaiian (Sandwich Islands) missions and added the letters s and t, in order to develop a Nez Perce grammar. Smith also opposed Spalding’s feeling that the Nez Perce needed to settle down in order to be converted to Christianity. Smith quickly lost respect for Spalding and wrote a series of letters to the Secretary of the ABCFM, Dr. Greene In April, 1841 Smith and his wife left Kamiah as a result of the discontent both among the whites and Indians. The Smiths traveled to Hawaii where the ABCFM had established missions in the 1820s and stayed there until October, 1845.
After a series of short ministries in Massachusetts and following Sarah’s death in 1855, Asa became pastor of the Congregational Church in Southbury, Connecticut. Smith died February, 16, 1886 in Sherwood, Tennessee, where he lived for the last two years of his life, following a move from Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
Henry and Eliza Spalding. Henry Harmon Spalding was born November 26th, 1803 in Bath, now Wheeler, Steuben Co., NY. Spalding had a troubled childhood, which included adoption and abuse. At 17 he was kicked out of his adopted home and left for Plattsburg. Spalding lived with Ezra Rice a Universalist, for the next four years and attended a school Rice taught. During this time Spalding was swept up in the Protestant revivalist movement that was sweeping rural America, known as the Second Great Revival, and was baptized into the Plattsburg Presbyterian Church in 1825.Eliza Hart Spalding was born August 11, 1807 in Kensington, NY. She was educated in Clinton, NY and joined the Presbyterian Church in 1826.
Henry and Eliza began a correspondence in 1830 which would lead to their marriage. After graduating from Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio, in 1833 Eliza and Henry were married. In 1834 the couple moved to Walnut Hills, Ohio so Henry could attend the newly established Lane Theological Seminary. Short of his graduation in 1835, Spalding was assured of an appointment to a foreign mission and left for Bath NY with his wife. On August 27th he was ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church. Soon after, the Spaldings were accepted to become missionaries among the Osage of Western Missouri. This plan was later changed so that Spalding could go west with the Whitmans and Grey to minister among the Flat Heads and Nez Perce. In early 1836 the five set out down the Ohio to link up with a fur caravan heading west. After a 900 mile journey, the Spaldings and Whitmans reached the area of Walla Walla, WA. September 3, 1836. The Spaldings moved on shortly after to establish their mission at Lapwai, among the Nez Perce. The Spaldings remained at their mission until 1847, following the deaths of the Whitmans. They withdrew to the Willamette Valley in January, 1848 and took up residence at Calapooya, near present-day Brownsville, OR. Spalding became school commissioner for Linn Co., built a church and served as its minister, and farmed. He was appointed Indian agent in June, 1850 Eliza died there on January 7th, 1851 after prolonged illness.
Spalding remarried in May 1853 to Rachel Griffin. Henry and Rachel resided at Calapooya until 1859 when, in his efforts to return to Nez Perce country he staked a land claim along with his eldest daughter Eliza and her husband A.J. Warren, along the Touchet River near present-day Prescott, WA.
Spalding returned to Lapwai in the summer of 1862 and was appointed teacher by the Washington Territorial Superintendent of Indian Affairs, C.H. Hale. By 1864 Spalding was in considerable disfavor, having illegally built a house on reservation land and was mining for gold with several partners. Spalding was forced to leave again in 1866, returning again to Brownsville. In 1871 Spalding again returned to Lapwai, this time following a trip to Washington DC and securing an appointment as Superintendent of Instruction, but immediately entered into conflict with both the Indian agent and one of his employees, Perrin Whitman, an interpreter. Spalding was dismissed from his position in July, 1872. Spalding then worked among the Spokane and helped found two churches. He died in Lapwai on August 3rd, 1874. Rachel Spalding died April 28th, 1880 at Hillsboro, OR.
Marcus and Narcissa Whitman: Marcus Whitman was born in Rushville, New York September 4, 1802. He studied medicine under Dr. Ira Bryant in Rushville, beginning in 1820 and attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Fairfield NY from 1825-26. He practiced medicine in Gainsboro (now St. Ann), Ontario, Canada. In the fall of 1830 Whitman returned to Rushville to study theology but was forced to give up this plan. He returned to medical college shortly after and graduated in 1832. He settled in Wheeler, NY and established his medical practice there. Whitman was appointed a missionary physician by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions on Jan. 6th, 1835. On February 23, he was engaged to Narcissa Prentice. Narcissa was born in 1808 in Plattsburg, NY and in 1828 finished her education and was teaching school in Bath and other towns.
Rev. Samuel Parker and Marcus Whitman traveled west with an American Fur Company caravan to the Green River Rendezvous, Wyoming. There the two met members of various Indian tribes including Nez Perces and Flatheads. According to Whitman the Nez Perces expressed an interest in the missionary’s teachings. Whitman returned to the east to gather more missionaries and Parker traveled with a group of Nez Perce, back to the Nez Perce homeland and finally returned to Connecticut in May, 1837.
Whitman returned home with two Nez Perce Indian boys in December, 1835. He met Henry H. Spalding who along with his wife Eliza had volunteered to help establish a mission with Whitman in the Oregon Country. Early in 1836, the Whitmans (Marcus and Eliza married Feb. 18th), Spaldings (left in January) and William H.Grey met in St. Louis and began their journey together to Nez Perce Country. They reached the area of Walla Walla in late August.
The Whitmans established their mission at Wailatpu on the Walla Walla River while the Spaldings and Gray went to Lapwai. The Whitman’s operated their mission until November 29, 1847 when local Cayuse Indians killed them along with eleven other men.