Regional History Librarian, Kelley Moulton, recommends Coming Home to Nez Perce Country: The Niimíipuu Campaign to Repatriate their Exploited Heritage by Trevor James Bond.
Growing up in Lewiston, Idaho (which is in North Central Idaho and is about a 6-hour drive from Ketchum depending on the weather and the route chosen), I remember the Nez Perce National Historical Park located just outside of Lewiston, home to items that represented the Nez Perce people and their heritage.
These items are part of the history and culture of the Niimíipuu people and, though I didn’t know it for the longest time, they have been through a history of exploitation that carries across generations.
It was these personal memories, along with my own nerdiness which is encouraged by my job as the Regional History Librarian, that brought to my attention Coming Home to Nez Perce Country: The Niimíipuu Campaign to Repatriate Their Exploited Heritage by Trevor James Bond.
The book looks at the 150-year history of what is now known as the Wetxuuwíitin Collection (formerly the Spalding-Allen Collection) as it was shipped across the country to Ohio then back to Idaho. It details the drama which would follow as the Niimíipuu people fought to repatriate the items from the Ohio Historical Society.
I appreciate that Bond uses history of the items as well as their importance to the Nez Perce people and their culture. He examines reasons why certain decisions were made when it came to fighting to retain the items here in Idaho in the traditional land of the people who created them using oral histories and speaking with tribal members. He explains the relationship between the Nez Perce Tribe and the National Park Service, who house and preserve these heritage items for the Tribe.
The ending point of the book is set in June of 2021 at the Nez Perce National Historical Park at Spalding, Idaho where the collection was renamed Wetxuuwíitin, which means “returned after period of captivity” in the Nez Perce language.
The collection was removed from exhibit in 2019 for a well-deserved rest period, but if you are interested, the items in the collection can be viewed on the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal.