In 1836, Henry Spalding and his wife Eliza joined Marcus and Narcissa Whitman on a mission to the Oregon Country. In 1846, Spalding acquired Nez Perce clothing, artifacts, and horse gear which he shipped to his friend and supporter, Dr. Dudley Allen, in Ohio. Dr. Allen wrote to Henry Spalding on March 27, 1848 that the box containing this saddle was badly damaged.In exchange for these Native American goods, Dr. Allen, a benefactor to the Presbyterian mission sent needed commodities to Spalding. After Allen's death, his son, Dudley, donated the Spalding-Allen Collection to Oberlin College in 1893. Oberlin College in turn loaned most, but not all, of the collection to the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) for safe keeping where it languished for decades.
In 1976, curators at Nez Perce National Historic Park (NEPE) rediscovered the collection. After negotiations, OHS loaned most of the Spalding-Allen artifacts to the National Park Service in 1980 on renewable one year loans. However, in 1993 OHS abruptly demanded the return of the collection. In negotiations with OHS, the National Park Service learned that OHS would sell the collection, but only at its full appraised value of $608,100 with a six month deadline to provide the money. The Nez Perce Tribe raised the money within six months with help from thousands of donors and purchased the collection where it is now on loan to NPS.
A decorated Nez Perce woman's saddle made circa 1830-1845 with cotton wood frame and painted geometric designs on the fenders from the Spalding-Allen Collection. Bison hide tie laces secure the rawhide inner pieces forming the pommel.
L 60 x W 32 CM back; 27 width front; 38.5 height fenders 76 x 43 CM (approximately).
Nakia Williamson-Cloud on what makes this a woman's saddle: