Nez Perce Indians

Published on September 13, 2011 by Amy

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Chief Joseph
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

The Nez Perce Indians are a tribe that lived in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. At the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Nez Perce territory covered about 17 million acres, covering parts of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Although the Nez Perce Indians were known as warriors and were strategic in battle, the Lewis and Clark expedition recorded them as a helpful tribe that was very peaceful.

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The Nez Perce Indians gathered many roots for winter such as the camas bulb, bitterroot, khouse, and wild carrot and potato. They also collected gooseberries, blackberries, elderberries, and wild strawberries as well as pine nuts and sunflower seeds. They were hunters, often-hunting elk, moose, bear, mountain sheep, and goats.

The Nez Perce Indian men wore fringed buckskin shirts with leggings, and moccasins. They occasionally wore gloves and a feathered bonnet. Women wore long dresses made of buckskin, cornhusk hats, and moccasins. The dresses were often decorated with elk teeth, beads, and dyes.

The famous leader of the Nez Perce Nation, Chief Joseph, surrendered to the United States Army after the tribe had fought thirteen battles and moved 1,600 miles towards Canada in an attempt to retreat north. The last battle, the Battle of Bear Paw Mountains, was the last great fight between a nation of Native Americans and the United States government. It was there that Chief Joseph gave his famous statement “From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.” Many people say he died of a broken heart after living on a reservation for two decades.

Today, there are about 4,000 Nez Perce Indians left in the Pacific Northwest. The Nez Perce Indians were responsible for crossbreeding their own horse in 1995. The Nez Perce horse is a crossbreed of the Appaloosa and the Asian breed Akhal-Teke.

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