New programs look at the journey of the Nez Perce and Montana’s Indigenous Archaeology
American Prairie is pleased to announce two new programs in recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day on October 9, 2023. The first is a months-long exhibit telling the challenging, but inspiring, history of the Nez Perce People and a “Montana Conversation” from Humanities Montana focusing on the Indigenous archaeology of Montana.
October 1 – December 31
The Journey of the Resilient Niimíipuu (Nez Perce) People
This traveling exhibit on loan from the Ravalli County Museum and Historical Society chronicles the journey of the Niimíipuu (Nez Perce) people and offers a glimpse into the lives of the Niimíipuu today. The story of the Niimíipuu stretches out across the landscape. It is embedded in places, names, and traditions. The Niimíipuu have faced many challenges over the past 150 years. This exhibit, on display at the National Discovery Center through December, examines the Nez Perce’s long history of disturbance, loss, and upheaval; but also, this Indigenous community’s resolve, adaptability, and strength. The exhibit chronicles the historical journey of the Nez Perce, discussing how they lived on the land prior to Euro-American contact; and describes the period from the early 1800s to 1877, including the arrival of missionaries and miners, and early treaties. It also details what happened in 1877 when the Nez Perce were forced to leave their homeland and the relentless pursuit that followed; describes their history while in exile and their long road home. Learning guides and other resources about the Niimíipuu will also be available to visitors.
October 10 from 6:00 – 9:00pm
Six Hundred Generations: Exploring the Indigenous Archaeology of Montana
On October 10, American Prairie will host “Six Hundred Generations: Exploring the Indigenous Archaeology of Montana” with Carl M. Davis. The program is part of the series “Montana Conversations” from Humanities Montana. The presentation begins at 6 pm and is free and open to the public.
American Indians have lived and thrived in Montana since the close of the last great Ice Age, some 15,000 years ago. Their ancient presence here is widely appreciated but the archaeological details of their long Indigenous histories are less well known, partly due to the pace of recent statewide research. This program takes participants on a journey through time, climate, landscapes, technologies and cultures, beginning with the First Americans who followed mammoths to North America. The conversation focuses on representative archaeological sites in Montana—habitations and villages, animal kill sites, stone quarries, rock art and battlefields– spanning 13,500 years, culminating with cultural landscapes and preservation issues that continue to be highly important to Indian peoples today.
The presenter, Carl Davis, is a former Regional Archaeologist with the U.S. Forest Service Northern Region in Missoula, Montana. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology from the University of Montana and University of Pittsburgh. Carl has published extensively on the archaeology of Montana, including a recent book “Six Hundred Generations: An Archaeological History of Montana.” He remains active in archaeological research and historic preservation across the state, and received the 2018 Montana Heritage Keeper Award, presented by the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees.
Funding for the Montana Conversations program is provided by Humanities Montana through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Montana’s Cultural Trust, and private donations.
The American Prairie National Discovery Center is located at 302 W. Main Street in Lewistown, and is open Thursday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Visit americanprairie.org/national-discovery-center to learn more, and follow American Prairie on Facebook for updates on upcoming events and programming.
*Attached are photos of Nez Perce members courtesy of Kris Komar of the Bitterroot Cultural Heritage Trust
About American Prairie
American Prairie’s vision is to create a vast and collaboratively-managed prairie destination that serves as a fully functioning ecosystem for wildlife, and offers visitors permanent access to the landscape that shaped our nation’s character. Already open to the public for recreation including camping and hunting, American Prairie offers visitors an opportunity to connect with nature on a truly grand scale. Learn more at americanprairie.org.