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Nez Perce
Expedition Culture Geography People Maps Nature
  Self Determination and Sovereignty
Sovereignty: Underlying Legal Principles
Fisheries Resources Management
Natural Resources Management
Cultural Resource Program
Contemporary Artists: Continuities
Contemporary Artists: Fusions
Language Program and Some Lessons
Horse Program
Acknowledgements and Cultural Property
Cultural Property Rights Agreement

  Native American
  Oral Traditions along the Clearwater and Snake Rivers
Coyote and the Swallowing Monster
Territory of the Nimíipuu
Seasonal Round: Winter into Summer
Seasonal Round: Summer into Winter
Horse in Nimíipuu Culture
Growing Up Nimíipuu: Family and Community Life
Growing Up Nimíipuu: Headmen and Leadership
To Sing and Dance: In the Past
To Sing and Dance: In the Present
Spiritual Life
Traditional Clothing Styles and Appearance
Céexstem: Dice Game

  Smallpox and Disease
Missionaries and Christianity
Fur Trade
Treaties and the Dawes Act
Treaty of 1855
Treaty of 1863
Conflict of 1877

Wood gathering, c. 1889-1892

On the Weippe, c. 1902

For information on contempory youth programs and horse breeding, see Nez Perce Horse Program.

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Josiah Pinkham discusses the influence of the rifle and horse on buffalo hunting. (Interviewed by Rodney Frey, March 2002)

By the 1730s the Nimíipuu had welcomed a new member into their family - the horse. The horse was likely first introduced to the Nimíipuu by their close allies, the Cayuse. With the adoption of the horse the Nimíipuu become even a more mobile people and were able to transport heavier loads. They now frequently traveled across the Bitterroot Mountains to hunt buffalo on the northern plains. And with the horse, larger quantities of buffalo robes and meat could be brought back to Nimíipuu country, for example. The journies throughout the Columbia River Basin to trade and fish at such the important intertribal centers as Celilo Falls and Kettle Falls was made much easier. The territory of the seasonal round and the peoples included within it were thus greatly expanded as a result of the horse.

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Angel Sobotta discusses her horse parading outfit (Interviewed by Ann McCormack, February 2002)

Traveling east among the tribes of the plains, Nimíipuu horses carried such trade items as cakes of camas, dried fish, salmon oil in sealed fish skins, bows of sheep horn, mountain grass hemp. And then upon returning home, those same horses carried dressed buffalo robes, rawhide, buffalo-hide lodge covers, beads, feathered bonnets, and stone pipes. An annual rendezvous with the Flathead, Yakama and Shoshone was held in what would become southwestern Wyoming, for example.

While new trading partnerships flourished, the horse would also bring the Nimíipuu into conflict with many other tribes within their expanded reach, such as with the Blackfeet. Military skills became more important factors in political leadership as a result.

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Lynn Pinkham discusses her family's cornhusk horse parading outfit, including bridle and temúuheyqt (martingale). The clip concludes with Lynn parading at the Julyamsh Powwow, July 2001. (Interviewed by Ann McCormack, March 2002; Julyamsh video by Rodney Frey)

The Cayuse and the Nimíipuu were the only tribes who selectively breed the horse, transforming it into an agile and responsive animal with tremendous endurance to travel great distances. The horse became a source of pride and wealth, of fun and artistic expression, as well as of spiritual power. Some families had herds of over 1,000 horses. Listen to Horace Axtell tell of the importance of growing up with horses and of horse racing.

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Josiah Pinkham discusses the temúuheyqt (horse martingale) and the story of the Grizzly Bear beaded-design. (Interviewed by Rodney Frey, March 2002)

© Nez Perce Tribe 2002

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