|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
|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