Williams, James H.Alternative names
Pauline Evans (1888-1960) and her husband Joseph O. Evans were proprietors of the Sacajawea Museum in Spalding, Idaho from the 1930s to the early 1960s. After relocating to Lapwai from Juliaetta, Idaho, in the 1920s, Mrs. Evans developed an interest in the history of the Nez Perce Indians of the area. In 1931, she and her husband bought what was purported to be Henry Harmon Spalding's pioneer cabin and opened what first was called the Spalding Log Cabin Museum, later the Sacajawea Museum, in the town of Spalding, where they displayed a growing collection of Indian artifacts, most of them acquired from the local Nez Perce. Among the artifacts was a buckskin dress alleged to have been worn by Sacajawea and a canoe used by the Lewis and Clark expedition. While scholars have dismissed Mrs. Evans' claims regarding the origins of many of the museum's artifacts (as well as her identification of the museum itself as Spalding's cabin), the Federal Writers Project's Idaho state guide, Idaho: A Guide in Word and Picture, as early as 1937 conceded that Mrs. Evans had assembled a "fine collection of Indian exhibits, many of which were passed down from generation to generation by the Nez Perce Indians."
After Mrs. Evans' death in 1960, her family continued to operate the museum. A flood in 1963 devastated the museum. The Nez Perce tribe bought many of the artifacts for eventual incorporation into the Nez Perce National Park museum; other items were dispersed. A pair of men's moccasins from the museum is part of the collections of the national Museum of the American Indian; a fringed hide dress identified as a Sacajawea Museum piece, probably from the Cayuse tribe, was sold in Sotheby's Spring 2006 auction of American Indian art.
Prepared by Alan Virta, 2011.
From the guide to the Joseph and Pauline Evans Collection on the Nez Perce Tribe, 1884-1959, (Boise State University Library Special Collections and Archives)
- Spalding Museum (Spalding, Idaho)