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Coming Home to Nez Perce Country

The Niimiipuu Campaign to Repatriate Their Exploited Heritage

Trevor James Bond

$24.95

2022 Washington State Book Award Finalist, General Nonfiction!

In 1847, missionary Henry Spalding shipped two barrels of “Indian curiosities”—exquisite Nez Perce shirts, dresses, baskets, horse regalia, and more—to an Ohio friend. Given just six months in 1993, the tribe launched a brilliant grassroots campaign and raised $608,100 to reclaim their exploited cultural heritage. The author draws on interviews with Nez Perce experts and extensive archival research to tell the fascinating story of the Spalding-Allen Collection. He also examines the ethics of acquiring, bartering, owning, and selling Native cultural history.

“A rich account of the history of the Spalding-Allen collection…both heart-wrenching and hopeful.”—Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals

This PBS Northwest Profile, The Long Journey Home, features our author Trevor Bond along with Nakia Williamson-Cloud, and beautifully summarizes the story, with an added happy ending!

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Illustrations / notes / bibliography / index / 6″ x 9″  / 216 pages (2021)

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Description

In 1847, two barrels of “Indian curiosities” were shipped by missionary Henry Spalding to Dr. Dudley Allen in Kinsman, Ohio. The items inside included exquisite Nez Perce shirts, dresses, baskets, and horse regalia—some decorated with porcupine quills and others with precious dentalium shells and rare elk teeth. Donated to Oberlin College in 1893 and transferred to the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) in 1942, the Spalding-Allen Collection languished in storage until Nez Perce National Historic Park curators rediscovered it in 1976. The OHS loaned most of the artifacts to the National Park Service, where they received conservation treatment and were displayed in climate-controlled cases. Josiah Pinkham, Nez Perce cultural specialist, notes that they embody “the earliest and greatest centralization of ethnographic objects for the Nez Perce people. You don’t have a collection of this size, this age, anywhere else in the world.”

Twelve years later, the OHS abruptly recalled the collection, but after public pressure and extended negotiations, agreed to sell the articles to the Nez Perce at their full appraised value of $608,100 and a six-month deadline. The tribe formed the Nez Perce Heritage Quest Alliance and mounted a brilliant grassroots fundraising campaign. One day before the deadline, they met their goal.

The author draws on interviews with Nez Perce experts and extensive archival research to tell the Spalding-Allen Collection story. He also examines the ethics of acquiring, bartering, owning, and selling Native cultural history, as Native American, First Nation, and Indigenous communities continue their efforts to restore their exploited cultural heritage from collectors and museums—pieces that are living, breathing, intimately connected to their home region, and inspirational for sustaining cultural traditions.

Dr. Trevor James Bond is the co-director of the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation and the associate dean for digital initiatives and special collections at the Washington State University Libraries. He holds a Ph.D. in history.

“The author’s research is thorough in combining Nez Perce oral traditions, interviews with participants, and archival sources. Colorful illustrations enhance his solid narrative.”—Journal of American Culture

“A plethora of primary sources that remain generally outside the access of the general reader…bring Native voices and epistemologies to bear on practices that have until recently depended on histories written by white missionaries, curators, and scholars.”—Nicole Tonkovich, professor of literature at the University of California, San Diego, and author of Dividing the Reservation and The Allotment Plot

This PBS Northwest Profile, The Long Journey Home, features our author Trevor Bond along with Nakia Williamson-Cloud, and beautifully summarizes the story, with an added happy ending!

The Way Back Machine has captured the original fundraising pages from the 1990s.

Illustrations / notes / bibliography / index / 6″ x 9″  / 216 pages (2021)

ISBN 978-0-87422-405-4 Paperback

 

Recognition

“A rich account of the history of the Spalding-Allen collection. Bond’s arguments throughout the book are balanced and supported by ample evidence…Bond is exemplary in his measured approach and commitment to giving equal weight to the oral traditions of the Nez Perce…Coming Home to Nez Perce Country is both heart-wrenching and hopeful, and provides a wonderful example of what can happen when a source community is reunited with their cultural material and the responsibility of museums and other institutions to aid in that effort.”—Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals

“The author’s research is thorough in combining Nez Perce oral traditions, interviews with participants, and archival sources. Colorful illustrations enhance his solid narrative.”—Journal of American Culture

Additional information

Dimensions 6 x 9 in
Format

eBook, Paperback