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Nez Perce Tribe to Host Event to Rename Historic Collection of Artifacts

Nez Perce Renaming Celebration takes place June 26, 2021 at the same location in which the items were originally removed over 185 years ago

Lapwai, Idaho- The Nez Perce Renaming Celebration Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Return of the Spalding-Allen Collection (Collection) is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 26th, 2021 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe) and the Nez Perce National Historical Park (Park) will host the renaming celebration at Spalding, ID; the original place of acquisition of these items by Reverend Henry H. Spalding from individual Nez Perce tribal members.  The celebration will also include a horse parade and luncheon.  All are welcome to attend. 

“On this day, we will bestow a much more appropriate name to a collection that was taken from us in the 1840’s. This renaming will be the final act toward truly and completely re-connecting these amazing pieces of material art to the Nimiipuu people. An appropriate Nimiipuu name will

bring the connection full circle,” said Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman, Samuel N. Penney. “Our gratefulness is so immense; it is simply hard to put into words. As we move forward from here, we anticipate that many Nez Perce artists will utilize this collection in developing their own unique patterns and designs, while still incorporating these treasured and timeless Nez Perce designs as well,” continued Chairman Penney.

The Tribe’s effort at renaming the collection is a significant endeavor. It is an important step in decolonizing how ethnographic items are collected and identified in a way to reconnect these cultural items back to their original cultural context and function within Nimiipuu society. 

Nakia Cloud-Williamson, Nez Perce Tribal member and Director of the Nez Perce Tribe Cultural Resource Program explains, “The re-naming of the collection is a significant step to shed the colonial legacy that has been the reality of the historical circumstances that this collection was originally made and the parallel disruption that Nimíipuu society has endured. It is indeed, a powerful assertion of an enduring world view and value system, that has overcome systematic oppression, devaluation and ultimately genocide. Bringing out a name is a thoughtful process and is not only a means to identify, but also to confer certain qualities and aspirations. It is with this understanding, that this collection of cultural items is re-contextualized within context of the community and the land which it originates, with the hope that this collection will continue to symbolize the values which define our identity and the resiliency of the Nimíipuu.”

The Collection, owned by the Tribe, is currently on display at the Park’s Visitor Center. For questions regarding the upcoming event, contact the Tribe through Ann McCormack: (208) 621-3710 annm@nezperce.org.