THE NEZ PERCE INDIANS
       By Cameron 
 
 
 
The Nez Perce (Ness-purse) Indians lived in Idaho, Oregon and Washington State, west of the Rocky Mountains, close to many river valleys.  They were mainly woodland Indians, but they sometimes lived in the grasslands or in the mountains.
Originally, they called themselves the Nimiipu (NEE-me-poo) tribe, which meant “the real people.”  French explorers came and named these very interesting Indians from seeing the strange way they put shells in their noses, so they named them Nez Perce, French for pierced noses.  But, they were mistaken; the ones they saw were from a different tribe.
The Nez Perce Indians lived in many different kinds of houses.  Some lived in circular pithouses with flat roofs; others lived in lodges made of wooden poles covered with woven cattail mats or buffalo skins; some lived in tipi-shaped lodges and others preferred longhouses.
Men, women and children had many different jobs in the tribe.  Men hunted moose, elk, deer, bear or buffalo.  Other times men would fish.  The Nez Perce ate a variety of different kinds of fish, but they depended on salmon most, because after it was cleaned, it could be stored for winter use.  The women wove things like bags and baskets.  They women also made the cloths, which were very similar to the plains indians.  The children practiced skills they would need when they were adults.  The boys would practice horseriding and archery.  The girls would practice weaving and corn grinding.
The Nez Perce tribe had different kinds of guardian spirits called weyekins (WEE-ya-kins) which would protect them from harm.  To receive a weyekin, the young girl or boy around the age of 12 or 15 would go to the mountains to fast.  There he or she would receive a vision of a spirit that would take the form of a mammal or bird.  There was also one creator, hanyawat (han-ya-WAT), the Nez Perce “Great Spirit” or maker of all things.
The Nez Perce were very interesting Indians, and I bet you will like learning more about them.  I found my information by using the book, “The Nez Perce – A New True Book” and Encarta ’99 for the computer.
 
 
 
 


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