Nez Perce Indians

The Nez Pearce peoples traditional territory was centred around the Lower Snake river and its tributaries in what is now North Western Origan, South Eastern Washington State and central Idaho.  As a people they were the largest and most powerful of the Sahaptin speaking people in that area.

The name Nez Pearce is French in origin because they were mistakenly thought to have their nose pierced.

However, this was not the case. As inhabitants of the high plateau region near the Rocky Mountains and the coastal area the Eastern part of the people were influenced by the Plains Indians East of The Rockies.

Their domestic life was traditionally centred on Salmon fishing, various variety of game, and gathering of plants and berries.

Their homes were communal lodges that could accommodate several families depending on circumstances.

When they were introduced to the horse by other plains Indians around the early 18th century this had a dramatic effect on their way of life amongst some groups.

This allowed them to mount expeditions into the eastern slopes of The Rockies where they could.

Hunt buffalo and trade with other plains tribes.

They eventually became very good warriors and had a reputation for being war like more so now they had the horse.

They soon adopted other plains traditions such as the tepee and the war dance plus battle tactics along with other plains traditions into their way of life.

They were known for having one of the Largest horse herds in the U.S.

The Nez Pearce became probably the most successful horse breeders in the U.S. and the Appaloosa breed of horse was the result of this.

By the mid or late 18th century immigrant White settlers began to cross into the Rockies and start settlements.

This also brought in the missionaries a little latter and this had a dramatic effect on the Nez Pearce.

So, in 1855 they agreed to a treaty with the U.S government where they were given a reservation encompassing most of their traditional lands.

However this changed in and around 1860 when Gold was discovered in the Salmon and Clear water rivers.

This caused an enormous of influx of miners and other people to the area which led to commissioners renegotiating the treaty they had. Their land was reduced to three fifths of what it had been under the previous treaty.

This eventually led to conflicts with settlers and miners so in 1877 this broke out into war with the U.S Army. This became known as The Nez Pearce war under the leadership of Chief Joseph.

Like all other Native people, they were then forced to accept the terms of the U.S Government so they were forced on to Malaria infested land in Oklahoma.

Again, the U.S government of the time broke their promises by not allowing them to settle on their own land.

Today the Nez Pearce tribal Nation is situated in North Central Idaho with its own Autonomous Council and leaders to administer the reservation.

In the early part of the 21st century the Nez Pearce started a program to reintroduce the Wolf back into that part of the Region and their land.

This intern as had a very good effect on the diversity of wildlife in the area of the Nez Pearce’s reservation. This also brings the tourists in which is a good source of revenue and helps with education about how to protect and look after nature and the planet.