The Nez Perce National Historical Park is a United StatesNational Historical Park comprising 38 sites located throughout the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which included traditional aboriginal lands of the Nez Perce people. Established in 1965, a museum was opened on the main site in 1983. Three main ecoregions are found in the 38 sites, covering a wide range of elevations and climate. Numerous animal species inhabit the park, including several that are considered sensitive.
The park commemorates the history, culture, and stories of the Nez Perce. It includes sites associated with the Nez Perce War of 1877, when it resisted takeover by the United States, and the flight of Chief Joseph and his band. The park is administered by the National Park Service, although a number of the sites are managed by other federal and state agencies as well as local communities, and the park's headquarters are located in Spalding, Idaho, east of Lewiston.
The park was established by Congress in 1965.34 Construction of the planned headquarters site and museum were delayed by land acquisition and federal funding problems.56 Soon after construction began in September 1979, Native American graves were discovered that needed to be preserved in consultation with the Nez Perce. Construction of the visitor center and museum was later restarted.7 The museum opened in June 1983.89
The Nez Perce National Historic Park does not follow the format of most national parks, in that it is composed of dozens of sites spread over four states. The 38 sites are linked by the history of the Nez Perce people, rather than by geographic location.10 Twenty-six of the sites are on or near the Nez Perce Reservation and can be toured in one day. Adjacent states host the other twelve sites.11