The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center Inc. is a partner in the Nez Perce National Historical Park. The Wallowa site is designated traditional Lostine Campsite by the National Park Service.
In mid-1994 residents of Wallowa County, in conjunction with the dispersed Nez Perce descendants in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, organized an ad hoc Nez Perce Trail Coalition to identify how best to provide a place for the regular return of the descendants to the valley. In this place they hoped to tell the story of the people who once resided in what is now Wallowa County. They wanted to trace, clarify, and explain the story of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce expelled from the area in 1877. They also wanted to welcome Nez Perce to the Wallowa community.
The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center Inc. (also known as WBNPTIC, Inc. and the Wallowa Nez Perce Homeland), a non-profit organization, was chartered on September 14, 1995. Today an active group of local residents and Nez Perce people from Washington, Oregon and Idaho are working to restore a part of the Nez Perce culture in Wallowa County.
WBNPTIC enjoys strong local and regional support. The coalition includes private citizens, representatives from business and economic development, local government, the visitor industry, historians, educators, representatives from the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the National Park Service.
The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center, Inc. received a strong financial boost from the Oregon Trails Coordinating Council's commemorative license plate matching grant program. The grant program designated $250,000 in matching funds for the development of interpretation on the Nez Perce Trail in Oregon. An interpretive project at Wallowa is a significant cultural, historic, and economic resource for the residents of Wallowa County, the Nez Perce people, and visitors to Northeastern Oregon. The project is consistent with the State of Oregon's focus on heritage tourism as a significant key industry niche market.
Funding for the project comes from many sources. The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center, Inc. was founded with a grant from the Oregon Trail Coordinating Council. This grant was matched with grants from Lamb Foundation, US Forest Service, Oregon Community Foundation, Cycle Oregon, Meyer Memorial Trust, Northeast Oregon Alliance, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and many gifts from individuals and businesses. The Rural Business Cooperative Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided funds for purchase of another 160 acres and further site development. A stock donation was used to begin a permanent endowment fund for site management and WBNPTIC, Inc. programs. The fund is managed for WBNPTIC by the Oregon Community Foundation.
Federal and private funding purchased the Wallowa Homelands site--a total of 320 acres at the edge of the Wallowa River, Wallowa, Oregon. An initial 160 acres was purchased in September of 1997 from Norman and Mamie McCrae. A service road, water system, and electricity were developed in the summer of 1998. The permanent dance arbor was constructed and completed in 1999 has been used every year since. The purchase of an additional 160 acres parcel and the creation of a one mile hiking trail to the top of the nearby Tick Hill took place in 2000. Future plans include interpretive signs, shower facilities, a care taker residence, developed permanent campgrounds, a longhouse, and cooking facilities. Partnership with the National Park Service will develop a high quality cultural or interpretive center to house programs and exhibits telling the Nez Perce story. Long term goals include year-round use (i.e. meeting, study and recreation) by the Nez Perce people from reservations in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and people of the adjoining communities of the Wallowa Country. The Wallowa Homeland site is the permanent home for the annual TamKaLiks Celebration.