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Traditional Place Name and Camas in Bloom Ceremony Scheduled for This Weekend

The Nez Perce Tribe and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Service have partnered to establish signage and interpretation of traditional Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) names for significant sites from Lewiston to Lolo Pass. These include winter village sites, family group/band gathering areas, geological features and landmarks, and other legend sites throughout the Nimiipuu homeland.

The ceremony to introduce will take place at Packer Meadows (wispin’íitpe, as one travels out of the timber, upon coming over the divide) at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center on Saturday, June 25 from 1 to 5 pm. Wispin’íitpe is a traditional campsite of the Nimiipuu for digging camas root.

Says Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman (NPTEC), Samuel N. Penney, “We are pleased to work in partnership with the Forest Service to complete the place name project and make this important transition a reality. Our place names have been in our stories and history since before I can remember. It is exciting to see these names reach the public and provide the same representation they always have for the Nimiipuu.”

The opening ceremony will begin with the Drum Color Guard and a horse parade in Packer Meadows along with statements by Samuel Penney, NPTEC Chairman; Cheryl Probert, Acting Deputy Regional Forester, Northern Region; Toby Bloom, USDA Forest Service NATIVE Act; and Sandra Broncheau-McFarland, Administrator Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail.

“It is exciting to see the Nimiipuu community and Forest Service employees come together to make these important projects happen. We have all learned so much about these wonderful landscapes and about each other,” said Cheryl Probert, Acting Deputy Regional Forester.

A welcome dance by the Nez Perce Appaloosa Horse Club Dancers will introduce the Camas in Bloom portion of the ceremony. Camas in Bloom representatives Emit Taylor, Angel Sobotta, and Rosa Yearout will share the significance of camas, their meaning to Nimiipuu history, and the Flight of 1877.

Nakia Williamson, Director of Nez Perce Tribe Cultural Resource Program will introduce the place names along with the Circle of Elders, drums, and dance.

“Fundamentally, Nimiipuu place names are a functional reminder of the accountability that the Nimiipuu collectively have to the Land and ‘resources.’ The relationship we have maintained over generations is fundamental to our existence and the Law which governs our actions upon this landscape provides the basis for this to occur. Conversely, it is through this very understanding of this ‘relationship’ which we derive culture and identity. Our cultural identity and lifeways are NOT superimposed over the landscape, rather it is the Land and ‘resources’ which provide for and facilitates transmission and understanding of the beliefs and values which are foundational to our identity. Because of this understanding, aboriginal place names which were interpreted and passed to us by our titlu/elders, have significance to our understanding of this Land and our place upon it.” Says Nakia Williamson (Ipelíikthiláamkawáat, One who Gathers the Clouds/Pile of Clouds)

The ceremony is free and the public is invited to attend. Ceremony organizers advise attendees to bring their own chair and prepare for warm weather with sunscreen, light clothing, an umbrella for shade, and water to stay hydrated.