click here to return to the main page
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


Consider visiting the official home page of the Nez Perce Tribe.

Calender of Events and Bibliography

We are Nimíipuu, "the people"; we are 'Iceyéeyenim mamáy'ac, "children of the Coyote."

Click Here to get RealPlayer 28K 56K 256K
HTML Transcript
Carla High Eagle, former Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC) member, tells of what it means for her to be Nimíipuu, while on her 2001 annual visit to the Big Hole Battle site (part of the Nez Perce Conflict of 1877). (Interviewed by Dan Kane, August 2001; edited by Rodney Frey, October 2001)

William Clark reported that we called ourselves the "Chop pun-nish or Pierced noses." And hence forth the soyaapos (white people) would call us, "the Nez Perce," literally meaning, "pierced noses," though we seldom practiced the custom of piercing our noses.

Click Here to get RealPlayer 28K 56K 256K
HTML Transcript
Julia Davis, former NPTEC member, tells of the meaning of Nimíipuu and "Nez Perce," while on her 2001 annual visit to the Big Hole Battle site. (Interviewed by Dan Kane, August 2001; edited by Rodney Frey, October 2001)

One of our tribal elders, Cecil Carter, tells of a name we had before we had horses, Cuupn'itpel'uu. The name means, we walked out of the woods or walked out of the mountains. It is a very old word.

Some of our southern neighbors, such as the Shoshone and Bannock, called us "people under the tule." It was in reference to the tule mat-covered, long houses we lived in. In addition to the long houses, we covered our conical tipi-like lodges with tule mats. Tule was a wonderful material to cover our lodges. When wet these reeds would swell to form airtight mats for our winter lodges to keep us warm, then during the summer, air circulated easly through them to cool our lodges.

Our southern neighbors also referred to as "Cous eaters," because of the roots we gathered. One of the principle roots we relied upon was cous. Cous is used for food and medicine.
Heart of the Monster

Heart of the Monster, along the Clearwater River, near Kamiah, photo taken by J. A. Hussey, c. 1963. Photo courtesy of the Nez Perce National Historical Park

Whether we call ourselves by the name Cuupn'itpel'uu, Nez Perce, Nimíipuu, or 'Iceyéeyenim mamáy'ac, we have been here since time immemorial, traveling a vast territory. When 'Iceyéeye, Coyote, killed the Swallowing Monster near Kamiah, he sprinkled the blood of the monster upon the earth and a people strong in heart and strong in mind, the Nimíipuu, were created.

We welcome you to this module to learn about the ways of the Nimíipuu - our history and culture, and our contemporay lives. We have organized this module into the following Topics:

Nimíipuu Culture
under Native American
Contemporary Programs
under Culture
Nimíipuu - U.S. History
under U.S.
Acknowledgments and Cultural Property Rights
Lewis and Clark: A Nimíipuu Perspective
under Expedition
Nimíipuu Biographies
under People
under Maps

© Nez Perce Tribe 2002


Going to Mars,
drawing by Harry Taylor, Nez Perce


Going to Mars,
drawing by Harry Taylor, Nez Perce