Wetxuuwíitin’ formerly the Spalding-Allen Collection (Nez Perce)

Wetxuuwíitin’ formerly the Spalding-Allen Collection (Nez Perce)

Created by the hands of our Nimiipuu ancestors. Collected and given away by a missionary. Rediscovered decades later, the fight began to reclaim these treasured items back. And now, we welcome them home.

Between 1841 and 1846, Henry Spalding acquired Nez Perce [Nimiipuu] clothing, artifacts, and horse gear which he shipped to his friend and supporter, Dr. Dudley Allen, in Ohio. 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.

In June 2021, the Nez Perce Tribe renamed the collection Wetxuuwíitin’ meaning “returned after period of captivity.” According to Nakia Williamson-Cloud, "The re-naming of this collection is a significant step to reclaiming ownership of one of the most significant ethnographic collections in existence."

In November 2021, The Ohio History Connection returned the $608,100 the Tribe raised in 1996 to purchase the Collection. At the time, Burt Logan, Ohio History Connection Executive Director and CEO said "[...]we diligently sought to learn as much as possible, and to process what this means to our organization. If the Wetxuuwíitin Collection was in the possession of the Ohio History Connection today, we would freely return these items to their rightful home."

Josiah Pinkham on the journey of the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection and Nez Perce collections away from home:

 

"Because I think about the journey of the Spalding-Allen Collection and how, you know, Spalding collected them and then he packed them in these barrels or crates. And they were taken by horseback down to I think Walla Walla. And then they were taken by horse and buggy on farther down. And then they were put on boats that went all the way down into Ohio. And they’re almost kind of like dormant for you know, many years, for decades. And then all of a sudden they’re back on the scene. And then they’re returned home on temporary loan, or permanent loan, and then the Nez Perce acquired them. And that really, like I said, in a backhanded way, adds to the value of them. Because you know that they survived that tremendous journey. 

And that provides a note of reassurance for the present Nez Perce that you’re very resilient in what you can overcome. Look at the journey of your material culture and how it went to this far off place and then it came home. Things are always coming home, always coming home. And you count on that as a coping mechanism in some way. And it’s my hope that these things that are in, like there are some Martingales over in Stuttgart, in Germany. There are objects in the British Museum. You know, those things are lying dormant. And they’re probably sitting in, you know, the stacks. And they’re not being seen. They’re not being shown. People aren’t learning about them to the extent that they could. It’s my hope that one day that those things will come back home and you know, again be reunited with their kinfolk that really appreciate the spirit of that expedition. And you know, it’s just a pretty powerful thought to know that those things are out there, that there’s potential for us to see them."

 

Items in Collection: 
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
0102.jpg
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A Nez Perce man's cured hide shirt decorated with quil work, Venetian glass beads, wool cloth, and fringe. The shirt was made circa 1820 and is part of the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts, Natural Resources
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts, Natural Resources
Moccasins, Nez Perce.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
Made by the Nez Perce circa 1836. Acquired by Henry Spalding and sent to Dudley Allen. Purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe from the Ohio Historical Society in 1996.
Moccasins, Nez Perce.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
Made by the Nez Perce circa 1840. Acquired by Henry Spalding and sent to Dudley Allen. Purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe from the Ohio Historical Society in 1996.
Drawing by Nakia Williamson of Bison Hide Moccasins in the Spalding-Allen Collection
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A technical drawing by Nakia Williamson-Cloud of the construction of moccasins in the Spalding-Allen Collection, NEPE 8738-9
Quirt Techinical Drawing Detail  by Kevin Peters
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A technical drawing by Kevin Peters of an an Elk Antler Quirt (whip) in the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection
Elk Antler Quirt, Nez Perce.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
Made by a male member of the Nez Perce Tribe 1840-1845. Acquired by Henry Spalding and sent to Dudley Allen. Purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe from the Ohio Historical Society in 1996. The Nez Perce Tribe renamed the collection Wetxuuwíitin’ in 2021.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Woman's Dress NEPE 8757
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
Nez Perce Woman's dress made of two elk skins between 1820 and 1840 by the Nez Perce and acquired by Henry Spalding and sent to Dudley Allen. Purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe in 1996. Re-named Wetxuuwíitin’ by the Nez Perce Tribe in 2021.
0065.jpg
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
The earliest documented Nez Perce saddle from the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts, Natural Resources
Saddle_3.jpg
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A series of detailed, technical drawings of the woman's saddle in the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection made by Nakia Williamson-Cloud
0042.jpg
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A Nez Perce man's cured hide bag of three pieces decorated with glass beads. The bag was made between 1836 and 1845 and is part of the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection.
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Architecture and Dwellings
Womans Dress NEPE 8758
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A Nez Perce woman's cured deer skin dress with attached yoke extensions and hem inserts decorated with glass beads, elk teeth, dentalium shell, thimbles, and fringe. The dress was made circa 1820s to 1840 and is part of the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection
Cradleboard, Nez Perce
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A teardrop shaped cradleboard with buckskin and decorated with glass beads, dentalium shells with elk teeth attached to top fringe. Made circa 1846 and is part of the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection
NEPE 8743
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
A woven and plaited buffalo hair rope with knotted ends, part of the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection
Man's Hide Shirt, Nez Perce
Community
Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]
Category
Artistry and Artifacts
Summary
Part of the Spalding-Allen Collection purchased by the Nez Perce Tribe in 1996 from the Ohio Historical Society. The shirt was made between 1830 and 1840. Re-named the Wetxuuwíitin’ Collection by the Nez Perce Tribe in 2021.