News From The Sites
Big Hole Battlefield
Visitor Center Grand Re-opening June 2, 2012
All photos courtesy of Jim Thorn
Friends of Bear Paw, Big Hole and Canyon Creek Battlefields was very
privileged to be able to attend the grand re-opening of the visitor center
at the Big Hole National Battlefield on June 2, 2012. The re-opening
ceremony included speakers, a ribbon cutting and a tour of the revamped
Between 50-60 people were in attendance for the ceremony. Mountain showers
looked like they might affect the outside ceremony, but stayed away long
enough for everyone to speak. In attendance were Tribal leaders, Tribal
members, representatives of the construction/contractors involved with the
work, NPS staff and rangers, and friends and family of all.
Big Hole Battlefield and valley as seen from the newly redesigned visitor
Big Hole National Park Superintendent Steve Black spoke first and outlined
the work done on the building. This included a new roof, a redesign of the
entrance way/foyer, a new theatre room, and updating of displays and
artifacts on presentation. Mr. Black thanked all who contributed to the
project and everybody for being in attendance. He then introduced the
speakers invited to share a few words.
Superintendent Steve Black
The speakers were Mr. Silas Whitman, Chairman of the Nez Perce Executive
Committee; Mr. Fermore Craig and Mr. Gerald Reed, both of the Confederated
Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; Mr. Albert Andrews Redstar, of
the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; and Mr. Wilfred
Scott, of the Nez Perce Tribe. They all spoke of their thoughts about the
importance of the site, for ALL the people that were involved in the
Battle of Big Hole - both Indian and soldier - as well as the other
battlefields along the Nez Perce Trail.
speakers and cutting ribbon ceremony
Mr. Scott - a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars - also
introduced his wife Bessie and his grand daughter Bessie, who is currently
a ranger at the Big Hole. He is a very proud Grandpa!
After the speakers had concluded, Mr. Black invited all the speakers and
the NPS staff and rangers to “cut the ribbon” and thus officially open the
revised visitor center for the public.
The visitor center features new exhibits, an interactive map of the entire
Nez Perce Trail, a new theatre and the “old “ theatre room providing a
more spacious panoramic view outside of the battlefield.
I spoke with Steve Black, and I reiterated that Friends is committed to
helping the NPS with preservation and promotion of Big Hole, Bear Paw, and
Canyon Creek Battlefields. Mr. Black was cordial and appreciative that my
wife and I could attend the grand re-opening as representatives for
Friends. He clearly appreciates what Friends has done in assisting the
NPS, and he looks forward to working with us in the future.
On a personal note, I was very glad to be able to attend the ceremony and
represent the Friends. We had a great trip! We spent the night in Wisdom,
Montana and as always are amazed at the beauty and splendor that Montana
Friends Board Member
Friends board member Jim Thorn
Bear Paw Battlefield
Buffalo Robe Tipi Raised
A rare look back at a 150-year-old buffalo hide tipi in the park's
collection which was photographed for the virtual museum project. The tipi
was probably made in the 1850s and consists of sixteen to twenty buffalo
hides, stitched together with sinew.
Mylie Lawyer, whose family is associated with the tipi, says it was owned
by Chief Lawyer's wife, Ow-yeen, and Mylie's father Corbett grew up in it,
listening to stories about Nez Perce culture and history. The last time it
was publicly displayed was 1950. Over forty people, including Mylie and
other Nez Perce elders, watched in anticipation as the park staff gently
raised the rare hide dwelling, one of the few extant buffalo hide tipi's
left in the United States.
The photos below are from 2005.
Chief Joseph Trail Ride -- 2009
Each year during the anniversary of the Big Hole Battle, the Nez Perce
hold a trail ride that originates from Idaho and finishes at Big Hole on
the anniversary. The photos below are from the trail ride in August 2009.
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