Nez buffalo hunting. Today, the Nez Perce

Nez Perce Indians The Nez Perce Indians name meant “The Walking People” in their native language.  They were native to Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Nevada, and Washington. They lived a nomadic life, traveling with the seasons and buffalo hunting.  Today, the Nez Perce tribe consists of 3500 people and is headquartered in Lapwai. The Nez Perces main homeland was 17 million acres.  They spoke Sahaptin, which is a language that originates in southern Washington and northern Oregon.  They were nomadic and survived by harvesting Camas roots and other fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Men hunted salmon, deer, elk, and buffalo and women often gathered plants such as berries, roots, and seeds. Buffalo was often hunted more and was their main game.   The Nez Perce lived in scattered villages in the plains west of the Rocky Mountains.  At their height, their population was 4,000 in number.  They were excellent horsemen and they owned the largest horse herd on the continent. They had no guns or ammunition which made them vulnerable to enemies and made it hard to hunt buffalo against the people who did have firearms.  Every year, they’d cross over the Bitter root mountains and hunt buffalo. In 1877, the Nez Perce Indians got in a war with the United States army.  It began in June and ended in October.  They fought on a retreat of 1,170 miles.  After the initial engagement in June, The Nez Perce went north to ask for help from the Crow tribe. The Crows turned them down so they went back to the Lakota tribe.  The Nez Perce were Christian along with some other individual beliefs.  This religion was called Washat, or seven drum religion.  It incorporated christianity, vision questing, and shamanistic curing.  The Smoholla, or dreamer religion plays an important role to the Nez Perce. Women did the majority of the work on the daily.  They dug roots, cooked for families, and cleaned fish that they caught.  Nez Perce people were in good health, fond of their children, and cared greatly for their elders.  As for the men, they spent their time believing they were too good for this work.  They hunted, held meetings, planned wars.

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