Enterprise Elementary School celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

First graders in Mrs. Hook’s Enterprise Elementary School class examine a real bear claw necklace and beaded moccasins as part of understanding the close relationship between the Nez Perce and the natural world. The event was part of the school’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.

First graders in Mrs. Hook’s Enterprise Elementary School class examine a real bear claw necklace and beaded moccasins as part of understanding the close relationship between the Nez Perce and the natural world. The event was part of the school’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.

By Ellen Morris Bishop for the Wallowa County Chieftain

Enterprise Elementary School and the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project collaborated to celebrate Oregon’s official holiday of Indigenous Peoples Day with discussions and hands-on displays about the lives and culture of the Nez Perce. About 100 children in grades K-3 participated. They examined teepees, necklaces, and the seasonal round calendar to learn about the Nez Perce’s relationship with the natural world. They thought about how a culture could use oral storytelling rather than writing to pass on its history. And they learned that people had lived here for more than 16,000 years.

“It’s important for children to understand both perspectives, and be aware of the bigger picture of what truly happened during the settlement of our land,” said Superintendent Erika Pinkerton.

“This is an opportunity to explore the deep history of this region,” said Angela Bombaci, of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project who developed and coordinated the event. “We wanted the kids to know 1) Whose homeland they live in 2) That they were here long before any Europeans traveled here 3) That their respect and knowledge of the land allowed them to live well for thousands of years here 4) That Indigenous peoples know many things to be true about the ancient past even if not written in books, thanks to oral tradition and archaeological evidence. We were excited to receive the invitation from Enterprise Primary School. Indigenous People’s Day is a great opportunity to start a conversation with these young kids that we can build on as they grow up in this community. We hope to celebrate this holiday with even more students next year.”

Check out these opinion pieces featured in the Wallowa County Chieftain this week:

Indigenous People’s Day: a time to honor and remember

Some Northeast Oregonians and tribal members are dreaming of a freer Snake River

These states and cities are ditching Columbus Day to observe Indigenous Peoples' Day instead

Oregon Governor'Kate Brown’s official Indigenous People’s Day proclamation for 2019.

Oregon Governor'Kate Brown’s official Indigenous People’s Day proclamation for 2019.

(CNN)Columbus Day has been a political lightning rod for states, cities and municipalities around the US for years now. Some have decided to do something about it.

Michigan, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia are among the most recent states and areas to change the October holiday to "Indigenous Peoples' Day" to recognize the native populations that were displaced and decimated after Christopher Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent.

Technically, Columbus Day is a federal holiday, which means it is recognized by the US government and thus brings the closure of non-essential government offices, and, usually, places like post offices and banks.

But states and local governments can choose not to observe a federal holiday. And, as is the case with a growing number of places, change the name and intent of the October holiday altogether.

Here's a list of states, cities and other local governments that have chosen to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day, as well as some places that don't observe the holiday at all.


Vermont: Observes Indigenous Peoples' Day as of 2019

Though the state made the unofficial switch in 2016 through a gubernatorial proclamation, the legislature just passed a bill making the adoption of IPD official.

Maine: Observes Indigenous Peoples' Day as of 2019

New Mexico: Observes Indigenous Peoples' Day as of 2019

Alaska: Observes Indigenous Peoples' Day as of 2017

Governor Bill Walker also signed observances of the holiday in 2015 and 2016 before making the switch official in 2017.

South Dakota: Observes Native American Day as of 1990

Oregon: Observes Indigenous Peoples' Day as of 2017

Hawaii: Observes Discoverers' Day in place of Columbus Day


Louisiana: Governor John Edwards announced the adoption of Indigenous Peoples' Day in September, 2019

Michigan: On October 14th, 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared the day to be Indigenous People's Day "to uplift our country's indigenous roots, history, and contributions.."

Wisconsin: Governor Tony Evers established Indigenous People's Day via an executive order days before the observance in 2019.

Washington, D.C.: The DC Council voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day a few days before the 2019 observance.

North Carolina: Governor Roy Cooper has made yearly proclamations designating the second Monday in October as Indigenous People's Day.

Iowa: Iowa governor Kim Reynolds made a proclamation in 2018 designating Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Cities and counties

Note: Some of these places observe Indigenous People's Day. Others do not observe Columbus Day, and still others partake in alternate observances.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona


Berkeley, California

Burbank, California

Long Beach, California

Santa Cruz, California

San Fernando, California

San Luis Obispo, California

Watsonville, California


Boulder, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Durango, Colorado


South Fulton, Georgia


Moscow, Idaho


Evanston, Illinois

Oak Park, Illinois


Davenport, Iowa


Lawrence, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas


Amherst, Massachusetts

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Northampton, Massachusetts

Somerville, Massachusetts


Alpena, Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

East Lansing, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

Ypsilanti, Michigan


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Grand Rapids, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota


Bozeman, Montana


Lincoln, Nebraska


Durham, New Hampshire


Newstead, New York

Ithaca, New York


Carrboro, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina


Columbus, Ohio

Cincinnati , Ohio

Oberlin, Ohio


Anadarko, Oklahoma

El Reno, Oklahoma

Lawton, Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tahlequah, Oklahoma


Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Nashville, Tennessee


Austin, Texas

Bexar County, Texas

Dallas, Texas


Salt Lake City, Utah


Charlottesville, Virginia


Olympia, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Bainbridge Island, Washington


Alexandria, Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia


Madison, Wisconsin

tıwi·teq̉ıs (Old Chief Joseph) memorial fence restored

By Ellen Morris Bishop for The Wallowa County Chieftain

LAPWAI, Idaho – Nez Perce National Historical Park recently restored the Old Chief Joseph’s Gravesite and Cemetery rock wall, located outside Joseph, Oregon. The month long masonry project, led by members of the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC), was finished Sept 20, 2019.

National Park Service employees and Idaho Conservation Corps interns replaced and repointed stones in the wall. “The project was unique because we had to match three different colors of historic mortar in the wall,” said Trent Martinez, Acting Chief of Facilities for the park. The work on the wall will stabilize the historic structure and preserve it for future generations.

Funding for the project was provided by the Federal Highway Administration and Oregon Department of Transportation in partnership with the National Park Service, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

The wall was originally constructed by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew comprised of Umatilla Tribal members in 1939.

In 1926, 2,500 people lined up to see the remains of tıwi·teq̉ıs or Old Chief Joseph reinterred at a new gravesite at the base of Lake Wallowa, overlooking the lands he once called home. Located in northeastern Oregon in the nimí·pu· or Nez Perce homeland, tıwi·teq̉ıs is the father of Chief Joseph, a leader during the conflict of 1877.

Tıwi·teq̉ıs was born between 1785 and 1790 and grew to be a leader of the groups of nimí·pu· living in the Wallowa’s. He signed the Treaty of 1855 but refused to put his mark to the Treaty of 1863. He died in 1871 but not before compelling his son to hold fast and defend his home land and people, “My son, never forget my dying words, This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and mother.” Unfortunately, under the threat of being evicted by the U.S. Army, Young Joseph and the Wallowa Band of nimí·pu· left the Wallowas in the spring of 1877 for the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. When tıwi·teq̉ıs died, he was buried farther down the valley but his grave was desecrated.

Several prominent community leaders lobbied for tıwi·teq̉ıs to be reburied. In 1926 that happened. The grave is part of a place that is home, and very special to the Nez Perce.

The Old Chief Joseph’s Gravesite and Cemetery was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

Ancient Nez Perce village site yields oldest date of human habitation in North America

chieftan archeo article.jpg

By Ellen Morris Bishop for the Wallowa County Chieftain

The oldest known human habitation in North America, more than 16,000 years in age, is located at the site of an ancient Nez Perce village known as Nipéhe, near the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. Oregon State University anthropologist Dr. Loren Davis and colleagues have dated animal bones and charcoal at the site, also known as Coopers Ferry, to 16,560 years ago. The Nez Perce Tribe participated in the excavations.

“Nipéhe is an ancient village founded by a young couple after a flood destroyed their previous home," said Nakia Williamson, the Nez Perce tribe’s director of cultural resources. “Our stories already tell us how long we’ve been here. … This [study] only reaffirms that. This is not just something that happened 16,000 years ago. It’s something that is still important to us today.”

The oldest North American known sites previously recognized include Paisely Caves in southeast Oregon, dated at about 14,000 years, the Galt site in Texas, dated at 16,000 years, but by a less precise method than Davis used, and another site in Pennslyvania which claims a 16,000 year date, but is controversial due to possible contamination of the dated material.

“The Cooper’s Ferry site is located along the Salmon River, which is a tributary of the larger Columbia River basin," Davis said. "Early peoples moving south along the Pacific coast would have encountered the Columbia River as the first place below the glaciers where they could easily walk and paddle in to North America. Essentially, the Columbia River corridor was the first off-ramp of a Pacific coast migration route."

Davis’ research is especially important because it supports the idea that the first peoples who arrived in North America came via a coastal route, rather than an ice-free corridor through central Canada which did not open until about 14,800 years ago. The idea of the first human migrations into North America through this central-Canada corridor has faded with the discovery of dates older than 14,000 years for archeological sites.

And there is one more compelling argument for arrival via a coastal route. The carefully crafted projectile points found at Nipéhe/Cooper's Ferry are near-matches for points produced and used at the same time in Japan.

“The age, morphology, and technology of Cooper’s Ferry LU3 artifacts share notable similarities with the projectile point traditions dated from ~16,000 to 13,000 cal yr B.P. in Japan,” Davis notes in his paper. Davis and his colleagues also concluded that the age and forms of these tools suggest a cultural connection with northeastern Asia, which, he says “complements current evidence of shared genetic heritage between late Pleistocene peoples of northern Japan and North America.”

Importantly, the tools found at Nipéhe/Coopers Ferry were manufactured right there, on-site, and are truly North American-made. They were not imports, or tools transported by these hunters from a Japanese site. Davis and his team found multiple flakes that were produced during the manufacture of the points at the site. Or, as he writes, “Lithic tool maintenance is reflected by a burination flake bearing an exhausted unifacial working edge (fig. S6U) and by an igneous toolstone chopper tool edge rejuvenation flake. Artifact 73-61176 is an early-stage bifacial overshot thinning flake discovered in situ with a finely faceted bifacial platform and distal termination that removed a square edge from an opposing tool margin.”

In addition to providing the oldest known human habitation in North America, the site has also revealed a long history of human occupation, from about 8,300 to 16,560 years ago. The range and sources of dates include charcoal from hearth fires dating to about 9,000 to 9,250 years before present, bone fragments dated from 8,300 years BP to 16,560 BP and charcoal dating from 8,300 to 15,945 years BP.

Dates were provided by Davis' colleagues at Oxford University, using a highly accurate radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry technology.

There were horses in the landscape in those days. Bone fragments and one partial tooth (all undated so far) indicate the presence of an extinct North American horse, of unknown species. Unfortunately, the fragments were found among other large mammal bones at a site that Davis interprets as a “food processing station.” The age of the horse tooth is probably between 14,400 and 15,000 years, Davis notes.  These tooth fragments, along with the site’s ancient dates, mean that Nipéhe/Cooper’s Ferry is the oldest radiocarbon-dated site in North America that includes clear cut evidence that humans hunted and consumed horses, Davis said.

Davis’ work at the Nipéhe /Coopers Ferry site began in the 1990’s as an archeologist for the BLM. Recognizing its probable antiquity and importance, in 2009 he established the Oregon State University archeology field camp there. Students and faculty have been slowly uncovering the past ever since. In 2017, members of the Nez Perce tribe began participating in the research.

“Prior to getting these radiocarbon ages, the oldest things we’d found dated mostly in the 13,000-year range, and the earliest evidence of people in the Americas had been dated to just before 14,000 years old in a handful of other sites,” Davis said. “When I first saw that the lower archaeological layer contained radiocarbon ages older than 14,000 years, I was stunned but skeptical and needed to see those numbers repeated over and over just to be sure they’re right. So we ran more radiocarbon dates, and the lower layer consistently dated between 14,000-16,000 years old.”

The dates from the oldest artifacts challenge the long-held “Clovis First” theory of early migration to the Americas, which suggested that people crossed from Siberia into North America and traveled down through an opening in the ice sheet near the present-day Dakotas. The ice-free corridor is hypothesized to have opened as early as 14,800 years ago, well after the date of the oldest artifacts found at Cooper’s Ferry, Davis said.

“Now we have good evidence that people were in Idaho before that corridor opened,” he said. “This evidence leads us to conclude that early peoples moved south of continental ice sheets along the Pacific coast.”

Exactly how long ago that might have been remains unknown. Encampments along the coast would have been submerged as glacial melt drove sea levels higher. The Columbia River, and Columbia River basin, as Davis noted, would have been “the first off-ramp of a Pacific coast migration route.” It is likely that the inhabitants of Nipéhe/Cooper’s Ferry were not the first people to explore and inhabit the river valleys of the Columbia basin. But much of the evidence of possible earlier habitations along those rivers was likely erased by late Pleistocene Ice Age Missoula floods that persisted until about 15,000 years ago and the single Bonneville flood that raged down the Snake River 15,500 years ago. It is fortunate that the ancient Nipéhe/Cooper’s Ferry encampment was high enough to avoid the Bonneville’s floodwaters.

“We have 10 years’ worth of excavated artifacts and samples to analyze,” Davis said. “We anticipate we’ll make other exciting discoveries as we continue to study the artifacts and samples from our excavations.”

Want to dig deeper? Click here to download the original research article.

How Native Foods are tied to Sacred Stories

How Native Foods are tied to Sacred Stories

Author Rosalyn R. LaPier, Montana

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, on June 11, that asked Washington state to remove culverts that block the migration of salmon. The ruling has significant implications for Northwest Coast tribes, whose main source of food and livelihood is salmon. 

The legal decision stems from the 1855 Stevens treaties when Northwest Coast tribes retained the “right to take fish” from their traditional homelands. Fighting to protect salmon habitat, however, is more than just upholding tribal rights. Salmon is viewed as sacred .. Click on URL below to read the whole story

Tamkaliks 2019 - Ellen Bishop for The Wallowa County Chieftain

The annual Tamkaliks Nez Perce homecoming celebration was held July 19-21 at the Tamkaliks grounds in Wallowa, Oregon.

The original Wallowa Band descendents hold this reunion celebration every year on the third weekend of July. The three day celebration is filled with dancing, drumming and friendship and many look forward to it all year.

This year, 80 registered dancers competed as well as 12 drum circles. Visitors came from all over, including guests from Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan and Spain, to attend this year’s festivities.

Fred Hill and Thomas Morning Owl kept crowds entertained as the masters of ceremonies for the 2019 homecoming celebration.

Things kicked off Saturday with a memorial procession, led by Celeste “Cece” Whitewolf on foot. Whitewolf has ancestry of Cayuse and Nisqually, and Wallowa-Band Nez Perce. Whitewolf lives in Tigard Oregon. Although she missed the first two Tamkaliks celebrations, she has attended every year thereafter. Whitewolf enjoys the social dancing on Friday night and says it is very spiritual.

Logan Quaemps, from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, led the Saturday morning Memorial Horse Procession. Quaemps and a friend made the three day ride over the hill from Pendleton. Quaemps said of the seven year old quarter horse and a six year old “wild horse off the hill,” “They both are tough as nails to make the ride over here”. The five horses in memorial procession circled three times — one circle to honor those from the past, one for those in the present, and one for the future.

Dance performances kicked off with the grand entry. Flag bearers led the procession carrying the Eagle Staff, American Flag, and the Canadian flag. Saturday’s dance performances included the circle dance, men & boys traditional, women and girls traditional, men’s fast and fancy, grass dance and women’s jingle dress.

Jesse Bevis Sr. of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla has been coming to Tamkaliks for years; he remembers performing in the junior category when he was nine or ten years old. Bevis has passed the tradition on to his own family who were in attendance this year. He and his wife Nukinka Manuel have two children. Daughter Alayna Bevis, 14, competes in the Women’s Fancy Shawl. When asked about her favorite part of celebration, she couldn’t decide on one set thing and stated that everything was her favorite. Son Jesse Bevis Jr., 5, was also performing this year and he said his favorite part was dancing in the Tiny Tots division, where he danced “prairie chicken” style. Bevis said Tamkaliks is very special to his family; he looks forward to catching up with friends and family who come to visit not only from Pendleton but from other places like Lapwai and the Yakima valley as well.

The friendship potluck held Sunday served venison, elk and salmon to hungry natives, locals and visitors. Volunteers and committee members served over 480 people at this year’s feast.

Successful Grand (Re)opening of the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Visitor Center

Successful Grand (Re)opening of the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Visitor Center

It’s a dream that has taken years to come true. But on Saturday, May 25, the long-planned Wallowa Band Nez Perce Visitor’s Interpretive Center became an impressive reality. Its contents were developed and vetted by the Wallowa Band Nez Perce. The Center’s new exhibits were fabricated locally. The exhibit is part of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project in Wallowa.

Tamkaliks 2018 Dance Contest Winners

Photo from Wallowa County Chieftain:  Lewis Allen, a Nez Perce of Lapwaii, Idaho, competes with another dancer in the Junior Boy’s Traditional dance at the 2018 Tamkaliks.

Photo from Wallowa County Chieftain: Lewis Allen, a Nez Perce of Lapwaii, Idaho, competes with another dancer in the Junior Boy’s Traditional dance at the 2018 Tamkaliks.

Dancing, drumming and feasting

Perfect weather greeted the hundreds who attended the Tamkaliks Celebration July 20-22. The Sunday friendship feast in Wallowa enjoyed a record number of visitors this year. There is no charge for the event, so visitor count was based on the number of people fed (plates), which featured the usual spread of buffalo, elk and salmon and dozens of homemade side dishes and desserts. There were 600 plates allotted for the feast, and organizers ran out of plates.

Check out the rest of the photos and see the winners of the Tamkaliks dance competitions -->


War Bonnet Special coming to Tamkaliks 2018

Photo from Wallowa County Chieftain: Chieftain archive Colorful costumes worn by young and old are always in fashion during The Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Project’s Tamkaliks Celebration.

Photo from Wallowa County Chieftain: Chieftain archive Colorful costumes worn by young and old are always in fashion during The Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Project’s Tamkaliks Celebration.

...Saturday competition dancing begins at 1 p.m. Later that night, following the veterans dance at 7 p.m., is an event never seen before at Tamkaliks and not to be missed –– the War Bonnet special.

Fred Hill, chairman of Tamkaliks celebration, said bringing the War Bonnet special to Wallowa is long overdue

“We haven’t had this kind of special event at Tamkaliks, that’s why I felt we needed to do it,” said Hill, who lives in Nixyáawii.

Thomas Morning Owl is helping organize the event. He said when a tribal member brings out an ancestral war bonnet, he is sharing an important piece of his family’s history. In traditional dance, war bonnets are often worn by descendants of former tribal leaders.

“The war bonnets signify leadership roles in the family,” said Morning Owl, who is a resident of Pendleton. “This is a time for people to bring their heirlooms out in the public.”...

read more at the Wallowa County Chieftan -->