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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

Some common Nimíipuutimptneewit greetings and phrases:

  • ta 'c méeywi (good morning)

  • ta 'c halálaxp (good afternoon)

  • ta 'c kuléewit (greetings at dusk)

  • ta 'c cik 'éetin ' (good night).

  • mine híiwes . . . (where is . . .)

  • minmaíi ' hinóoqa . . . (how do you say . . .)

  • qe 'ci 'yéw 'yew (thank you)

  • ta 'c léeheyn (a general greeting)
  • Go to Céexstem, a dice game, to learn the number system.

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    Vera Sonneck, Director of the Cultural Resources Program, shares a few of the common Nimíipuutimptneewit greetings. (Interviewed by Josiah Pinkham, Feburary 2002.)

    The Nez Perce Tribe and Tribal members have been concerned about the state of Nimíipuutimptneewit (Nez Perce Language) since the early part of the 20th Century. Archie Phinney, the first Plateau Indian to receive a Ph.D., wrote his dissertation on Nez Perce stories, recording the stories of his mother that were already being lost from the memory of his people. In the 1970's, David Arthur first began to teach Nimíipuutimptneewit at Lewis-Clark State College, and he was followed by the Rev. David Miles, and by Horace Axtell.

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    Harold Crook and Cecil Carter (on right) during the Nez Perce language class, taught on the University of Idaho campus. October 2001.

    In 1996, the Nez Perce Tribe began a concerted effort to reverse the progress of language loss. Evening classes were begun for adults and afternoon classes for children. Since that time, additional classes have been added for high schoolers, Tribal employees, and younger children.

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    Horace Axtell shares some key commands in Nimíipuutimptneewit (the Nez Perce Language). (Interviewed by Josiah Pinkham, March 2002)

    The Tribe and Lewis-Clark State College have developed a partnership in which the Tribe supports classes in Nez Perce given at the college level. There are now three years of Nimíipuutimptneewit given at LCSC, and students can achieve a minor in Nez Perce. The partnership has been extended to the University of Idaho, with first and second year Nimíipuutimptneewit offered, via compressed video link. The Tribe has developed first and second year textbooks. The second year text is based on the Coyote stories told by elders of a generation ago. Third year students are mentored directly by elders. The classes are taught by a team of elders and a college professor. The goal is to train new speakers of the language who can subsequently teach at the area schools and pre-schools.

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    Horace Axtell tells of another account of the Coyote and the Monster story, told entirely in Nimíipuutimptneewit. Horace is using many "old time Nez Perce words," seldom heard today. An English translation is not offered here to encourage the youth to learn the language in order to appreciate this important story. For an English telling of this story, go to the Oral Traditions page. (Interviewed by Josiah Pinkham March 2002)

    © Nez Perce Tribe 2002

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