The Wallowa Land Trust’s Indian Sacred Lands Program seeks to assist tribes and Indian people in their efforts to protect selected lands of special significance to them.
The Wallowa Valley and surrounding lands were home to Wallowa Band Nez Perce (the W’al’wama)from time immemorial, and the Nez Perce relationship with this homeland is intimate. In some ways it’s difficult to imagine any part of the Wallowa that isn’t Indian Country!
The particularly deep and historic affiliation of the Nez Perce with the lands surrounding Wallowa Lake – including both lateral Moraines and the Terminal Moraine – and with the lake itself, is well established. Over many years, local citizens worked together with Nez Perce people to protect the land surrounding the Indian cemetery and gravesite of Old Chief Joseph at the foot of Wallowa Lake. Much of this land (the old Marr Ranch) was jointly purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe, Umatilla Tribes and Colville Tribes, together with the State of Oregon, in 2007. It is now preserved as Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site.
Nez Perce concern for the traditional homeland the Wallowa represents extends broadly to other significant cultural and historical sites throughout the mountains, valleys and canyons of the Wallowa Country, including traditional fishing areas, encampments, cemeteries and other special places.
The Nez Perce Tribe has worked cooperatively with Wallowa County officials in supporting land use planning and dam restoration efforts, and has provided its name and resources to a variety of important county projects. The Tribe is working to restore salmon and other fish populations in local rivers, and hopes to re-establish sockeye salmon in Wallowa Lake as part of a valley-wide fisheries/economic restoration effort that will benefit all citizens – both Indian and non-Indian. Tribal staff operate throughout Northeast Oregon out of the Tribe’s Department of Fisheries Resources Management satellite office in the town of Joseph.
The Trust intends that its work assist Nez Perce people in the landbase aspects of their work (cultural, fisheries or otherwise) by protecting some areas through direct land trust acquisition (both fee title and Conservation Easements, as appropriate), and also by facilitating collaborative acquisition of specific lands important to the Nez Perce.
Download our Indian Sacred Lands Program Brochure
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