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Nez Perce Trail Exhibit Opens Friday at Ravalli County Museum

nez perce exhibit
Nez Perce exhibit at Ravalli County Museum. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

The Ravalli County Museum in Hamilton has two days of celebration, May 19 and 20, for a new exhibit about the Nez Perce Trail, recounting the events of 1877.

Tamar Stanley of the museum said the Niimiipuu (Nez Perce) People traveled through the Bitterroot Valley that year, pursued by the U.S. Army. Their flight from Wallowa, Oregon, in an attempt to cross into Canada, stopped at Bears Paw Battlefield in northeast Montana. People in the valley reacted in various ways – some building defensive forts and others trading horses with the tribe.

“Nez Perce Trail: The Journey of the Resilient Nez Perce People” will open Friday evening at 6 p.m. with representatives from the Niimiipuu and Selish Tribes, including tribal drumming. A special musical chorale from Hamilton students has been prepared, led by Peggy Bucheit.

A corral has been set up on the museum lawn for Appaloosa horses from the tribe. There will be traditional Nez Perce foods to sample and historic presentations from tribal elders until about 8 p.m. Friday.

Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., an Appaloosa Horse parade will take place, along with free kids activities.

The second floor main display area of the Hamilton museum contains the panels and artifacts of the exhibit, which has been five years in the making, according to Stanley. The display will be in place until October 31.

Support was from USDA Forest Service, the Bitter Root Cultural Heritage Trust, the George Lawry Bequest and the museum’s Jane S. Herman Foundation.

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