Jim Zimmerman first became familiar with the Nez Perce around 1972, as an equestrian interested in Appaloosas, a breed of horse originally bred by the Nez Perce. While working to spread awareness and popularity of the Appaloosa breed, he became connected to Nez Perce NHT enthusiasts, including Jim Evans, who would later become the executive director of the Nez Perce Trail Foundation (NPTF). Zimmerman’s interest in the tragic story of the Nez Perce War of 1877 grew, and he became increasingly involved with the NPTF as a board member.
Since Zimmerman is located in Kentucky, far from the Nez Perce NHT, he felt particularly strongly about educating others about the Nez Perce people and the tragic events that led up to the Nez Perce War and the subsequent exile, since those in his area were largely unfamiliar with the stories of western native peoples.
Zimmerman felt the best fit for him to convey the Nez Perce story was to bring to life the character of Lt. C.E.S. Wood, who was the Aid-De-Camp to General Otis Howard, commander of the military forces that pursued the Nez Perce for over 1170 miles. Lt. Wood saw the unfairness of the treatment of the Nez Perce and had knowledge that the U.S. Government was clearly in the wrong for creating unnecessary hostilities between the Nez Perce and the U.S. Army.
In addition to his living history presentations, Zimmerman also has a passion for the visual arts, particularly drawing and painting. He has always revered the work of Charles Russell and Fredrick Remington, two great turn of the century western artists. Zimmerman’s own work focuses largely on the western U.S., and he has done several pieces honoring the beauty of the Nez Perce culture.
Zimmerman is strong supporter of the National Trails System as a whole and is actively involved with the Partnership for the National Trails System for trails advocacy work.