Tribe Name

The Nez Perce (Pronounced "nezz purse" in modern day English) are a tribe that lived in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, which made up Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Montana. The Nez Perce Indians were known as warriors. They are the tribe that values self-importance, because of the creation stories that they came up with involved them being at the epicenter of the story. This is off of the basis that the heart is the core element of a human being and is also known as the prize possession involving the sport of hunting.


*12,000 BP: Paleoamericans cross Beringia into North America
*Early 1700's: Acquired horses.
*August 1, 1758: First Indian reservation is established in North America
*1805: Contact between the Lewis & Clark expedition team and the Nez Perce take place
*March 3,1840:Nez Perce's future leader Chief Joseph is born.
*1855: Nez Perce Indian Reservation is created by a treaty.
*March 6, 1856: Nez Perce Indian Tribe furnish horses to Oregon volunteers.
*1868: The Nez Perce Treaty was ratified by the U.S. Government.
*1877: The Nez Perce war surfaced.
*October 5, 1877: Chief Joseph the leader of the Nez Perce surrenders his rifle after evading U.S. patrols for many months with his starving tribe.
*January, 14 1879: The leader of the Nez Perce Chief Joseph confronts the congress about the land that was stolen through the ratification of various treaties.
*1885: Chief Joseph and his people are moved to a reservation in Washington state called Colville
*1995: Chief Joseph dies while in the Colville reservation.

Include a chronology of at least 15 dates and descriptions of important events in the tribe's history. At least 5 must be prior to European contact.


The Nez Perce territory originally extended from western Montana to south eastern Washington and south into central Idaho and some area in eastern Oregon.
Today the Nez Perce reservation is located in north central Idaho
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Nez Perce Territory


Identify the language and language group for this tribe. This will necessarily require a discussion of related tribes.
A Sahaptian dialect was traditionally spoken. The Nez Perce language belongs to one of the oldest language stocks in North America. Their language is closely related to the Walla Walla, Yakama, and other plateau tribes.

Social Organization and Government

Their social structure changed over time based off of what bands resided on their land. Before the arrival of the common European settler, women took place in daily activities that would involve domestic work. This work included cooking, and maintaining their personal domains. Men in the village were the warriors and hunters who protected the village from foreign entities. There was a village chief that lead individual groups of Nez Perce. There was a village council that was usually made up of village elders, important figures in their society, and warriors.

The tribe's government is now controlled by the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, this government organization consists of a group of nine elected men and women who deal with the affairs of the tribe. This includes various things like education, elections, and equal distribution of funds.


The Nez Perce traditionally made their clothes from the skins of animals such as deer or rabbit. The Nez Perce also made garments using shredded cedar bark. Men generally wore breech cloths and capes in warm weather. In the winter months the men wore fur robes and leggings. The Women wore woven dresses or animal skins.
After the horse was in introduced in the 1700's The Nez Perce began to wear tailored clothing and decorated them with beads or shells.
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A Traditional Nez Perce Dress

Diet and Food Sources

Describe the tribe's diet and food sources.
Discuss food preservation and management.
The Nez Perce relied mainly on hunting and gathering. The women of the tribe gathered roots and vegetables such as qaws, wild onions, carrots, bitterroots, berries and nuts. The Nez Perce men traditionally did the hunting and fishing. The migrating salmon were a large part of the Nez Perce diet. Larger mammals such as deer, antelope, and elk were also important to the Nez Perce. The Nez Perce biannually made a trip to northern Montana to hunt bison.
If the tribe had an abundance of food the meat was smoked to be saved for later. The roots were ground and boiled then formed into cakes and stored for later.


The forms of shelter used by the Nez Perce included earth houses, long houses, and even tipis.
They made the earth houses by digging an underground room, after that they built a wooden frame and then plastered mud on the frame, thus making a mud house. There are two different variations of this design, the designs include the small but cozy small round house and the long house, which was usually 150 feet in length and could house multiple families. When the Nez Perce started hunting buffalo on the great plains, they adapted the means of quick shelter from the customs of the Great Plain Indians. This method of shelter was and still today is known as the tipi. The tipi is a quick method that involves quick set up and take down and was ideal for hunting trips across the Great Plains. Tipis are usually made from tanned Buffalo hides and long sticks.
A Teepee in the early 18th century
A Teepee in the early 18th century


The Nez Perce's methods of transportation included walking, building dugout canoes, and dog pulled sleds called travois.
Using canoes was the Nez Perce's main method of transportation before the European settlers introduced horses to the Indians. When horses were introduced to them, it dramatically increased the range and speed in which they could travel.

Tools and Weapons

Native American Bows and Arrows: Most Native American bows were made of wood while the strings were usually made from hair of the animals that they killed or sinew (animal tendons). These weapons were usually used for war and hunting various animals. There were usually two variations of the bow, the short bow and the longbow. Short bows were usually the older more respected step-son of the two, they could be fired from horseback and were quick in succession when firing. Longbows were usually used at long range and traveled at a greater velocity. Arrows were usually made from shafts of wood and at the end, feathers were usually applied to increase the stability of the arrow and increase accuracy. Arrowheads were commonly made from stone and other materials like animal bones and flint.

Native American Tomahawks and Axes: The axe has been used by the Indians for over a millennia, but it didn't become popular until the European settlers introduced iron and steel to the Indians, thus increasing the effectiveness and durability of the axes by tenfold. These axes then became known as "Tomahawks", they were more versatile than regular axes and were especially admired by Native American warriors. They were like the utility knives that we now have in our society, they can be used as tools and weapons. The Tomahawk was mainly used for hand to hand combat.

The tools created by the Native Americans at this time in history were very inferior to tools created elsewhere in the world. For example, the Europeans had already entered a technological revolution with the discovery of gunpowder. This gave them a great advantage when it came to long range combat, especially since guns were introduced to mass production. Also in China, the Chinese already had various resources including metal and explosives.

Economic Activities and Trade

In the early stages of the Nez Perce's history, their economic growth was solely reliant on their common customs, which included fishing, gathering, and raising large herds of horses. This later changed dramatically when the European settlers arrived in the Pacific Northwest. The Nez Perce lost extraordinary profit from their land getting taken from non-Indians. Their were not really any disputes between the Nez Perce and European settlers that involved violence. But some instances involved the chief of the Nez Perce Chief Joseph to confront congress involving the loss of their land based off of the ratification of various treaties. The Nez Perce were known as one of the most friendly tribes out of the Pacific Northwest Indians. Later in the early to mid 90's, the Nez Perce were reimbursed for the land that they lost. Today they make most of there profits renting land to non-Indians.

Religious Beliefs

The Nez Perce have a deep sense of being intertwined with the earth and to be one with the nature that surrounds them. They believe that everything in nature is related to the human condition in various shapes and forms. They say that almost every member of the Nez Perce Indian tribe has had a personal spiritual link with nature in form of a wyakin (form of guardian spirit).

Creation Story: Heart of Monster

Recreation and Games

The Nez Perce played basic games such as foot races, horse races, and wrestling. The Nez Perce children played with dolls made out of wicker.

Works Cited