Nez Perce

The Nez Perce are located in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
The dress of both sexes was plain style, with the single exception of the fez-shaped basket-hats of the women. The usual material for clothing was deerskin, but the dresses of women were frequently of mountain-sheep skin. Houses were mat-covered lodges of the tipi form, or more commonly a development of this type in which material of several or many of these circular lodges were used to build a lodge, wedge-shaped communal structure.

When studied as a part of the North American Indian's conflict with civilization, is convincing that there was absolutely no course, policy, or conduct. The inert, unorganized Indians of southern California were literally crowded from the earth. The fact that they, with their pacific disposition, made no resistance, has no effect on the settler, nor did it cause the Government to reach to them a helping hand in appreciation of their good behavior. They suffered through good conduct. The warlike, haughty tribes of the plains stood the imposition as long as they could, and then their long-smoldering resentment broke into flame and they struck back as only Indians can, and they suffered through their hostility. The Nez Perces, a mentally superior people, was friendly from their first contact with white men, and as a tribe they always desired to be so. Their history since 1855, and particularly the war of 1877, tells how they were repaid for their loyalty to the white brother.

The Nez Perces were primarily a fish eating people living in established villages, but they also depended largely on the many varieties of roots which were so abundant in their region. It is likely that they went to buffalo country also for food, previous to their acquisition of horses, and even after that event but a small part of the tribe engaged in these hunting expeditions.

The Nez Perces were a loosely associated group of local bands, each possessing its own territory and own chief. It is true that they had a collective name for these bands, and that there were occasions when perhaps the greater part were in one camp, as at the camps meadows or during fall fishing in the Wallowa and the Salmon. Nevertheless there was in reality no tribal organization. The bands were kindred, spoke the same language, and associated for mutual defense, but they remained distinct.


The Nez Perce began his preparations for spiritual obtainment almost in infancy. The child, either boy or girl, when less than ten years of age was told by the father or the mother that it was time to have "tiwatitmas"-spiritual power. A mere infant starting out alone into the fastness of the mountain wilds, to commune with the spirits of the infinite, a tiny child sitting through the night on a lonely mountain, reaching out its infant's hands to God.

The Nez Perce is French for pierced nose. The name Nez Perce was given by some French Explorers. There are about 3,100 people in the Nez Perce tribe. The women of the tribe cooked, raised the children and started fires the children helped gather food and the men hunted.