When transcribing the Carlisle records, I came across a tribal designation I wasn’t familiar with, the Lapwai.  Who were the Lapwai?

The Lapwai were part of the Nez Perce who lived in Idaho.  Today, the city of Lapwai, Idaho is the center of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.

Henry Harmon Spading established a Nez Perce Indian mission at Lapwai in 1836. Reverend Spading and his wife introduced Christianity, agriculture, and opened the school in Idaho for Indian children. In 1839 Henry Spading began publishing the Bible in Lapwai on the earliest printing press in the Pacific Northwest. Chief Timothy of the Nez Perce, the first native Christian leader, was baptized at Lapwai on November 17th, 1839.

The amicable relationship between the Nez Perce and the White Men lasted many years, but began to slowly deteriorate as more and more settlers arrived in their lands, and with the discovery of precious metals in Idaho.

In 1855 U.S. Officials persuaded the Nez Perce to sign the Walla Walla Treaty in which they sold much of their lands for less than 8 cents an acre. The treaty ordered the Nez Perce to relinquish their ancestral territory and move to Oregon’s Umatilla Reservation with the Walla Walla, Cayuse, and Umatilla Tribes. However, all the tribes so opposed this plan that Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens granted the Nez Perce the right to remain in their own territory, on the condition that they relinquish nearly 13 million acres to the U.S. government. A large reservation (10,000 square miles) was established across central Idaho and into the Wallowa Valley of Oregon. Many of The People moved into Idaho. Some however remained in the Wallowa Valley. Among these was Old Chief Joseph and his band.

You can read more about the Nez Perce tribe at their website,

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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