Nez Perce Nation

Nez Perce Literature


“m_lac “_te tit_qan nim_pu hiw_ke waq_pa”
(A long time ago, the Nimipu people were not many in number)

Chief Joseph’s Home Page
Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht has spoken.

The Chief Joseph Foundation
P. O. Box 413
Lapwai, Idaho 83540
Contact: Bonnie Ewing at (208) 843-7175.

“Indian people are still here. We are not going away.
It is time that the newcomers to this country
started paying proper respect to the elder status of the first nations.”


Otis Halfmoon, Nez Perce

“The earth is our mother. She should not be disturbed by hoe or plough. We want only to subsist on what she freely gives us.”

“Every animal knows more than you do. White men have too many chiefs. Learn how to talk, then learn how to teach.”

An elder Nez Perce woman expressed the heartfelt Nez Perce distress:
“…we were fools and the white man’s lies made us more foolish.”

White Bird’s sentiments were similar,
“A white man must have no respect for himself. It makes no difference how well he is treated by the Indians, he will take the advantage.”


Nez Perce Stories

Bridal Veil Fall

Coyote and the Monster of Kamiah
Also on National Park Service site

How Half Dome Was Formed

Frog Rock

Yellow Jacket and Ant

Other Nez Perce Home Pages

Nez Perce

Appaloosa Horse
Chief Joseph’s Surrender Speech
Flight of the Nez Perce
Land of the Nez Perce
Nez Perce Archive Photography
Nez Perce Bibliography
Nez Perce Information & Education
Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Directory

For more information about the Nez Perce, please contact:

Leigh Pond, member of the Nez Perce Tribe.

The Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho
P.O. Box 365
Lapwai, ID 83540
(208) 843-2253

Nez Perce National Historical Park
P.O. Box 93
Spalding, ID 83551
(208) 843-2261

Nez Perce

Nez Perce Government

The affairs of the Nez Perce Tribe shall be administered by a Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC),
consisting of nine members elected by the Tribal General Council.

Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee
P.O. Box 305
Lapwai, ID 83540

To contact Nez Perce Tribe Executive Committee
you can email them at:

May 2015
May 2014
May 2016
May 2014
Asst. Sec./Treasurer
May 2014
May 2016
May 2015
May 2015
May 2016

The current governmental structure is modeled after the Anglo system and is based on a constitution adopted by the tribe in 1961. The NPTEC is obligated to protect the health and welfare of the Nez Perce people. This means protecting and preserving treaty rights and tribal sovereignty, Nez Perce culture, and the general environment of the reservation.

Tribal headquarters are located in Lapwai, Idaho.

Resources Chair / Phone
Human Resources Lee Bourgeau, HR Director
Law & Order/Intergovernmental Leslie Hendricks, Chief
Natural Resources Phone: 208-843-7400
Administration Department Phone: 208-843-7389
Tribal Court
Phone: 208-843-7338
Department Of Fisheries
Phone: 208 843-7320 Ext #1

To contact Nez Perce Tribe Executive Committee you can email them at:

There was an article in The New York Times, July 22, 1998, entitled

“Expelled in 1877, Indian Tribe Now Wanted as Resource”

by Timothy Egan, from Joseph, Oregon

Germans appreciate the sacredness of Wallowa Lake and the small Nez Perce (Sahaptin) cemetery there and think it could become a money-making tourist attraction. There is a Chief Joseph Days rodeo that some Nez Perce began attending about ten years ago, setting up a powwow on the grounds. Now the powwow gets more attention than the rodeo.

“They’re opening the door for the trail home — I never thought I’d see the day,” said Earl (Taz) Conner, one of about 4,000 Nez Perce in North America. Conner is a direct descendant of Old Chief Joseph, for whom this town is named and whose burial site is a prime tourist attraction here in the Wallowa Valley, in northeastern Oregon. “

It is really ironic, asking us Indians to return after booting us out of there in 1877.”

After broken treaties, constant wars, humilating surrender after a 1600 mile march, etc., in 1877 the remaining Nez Perce were scattered from Canada to Oklahoma but never allowed to return to the Wallowa Valley. The son of Chief Joseph, Young Joseph, was the leader of the tribe at the time of surrender. He died in 1904 of a broken heart and was buried in eastern Washington. Conner’s great-grandfather Ollokot fought in the war, and he says he noticed an attitude change a couple of years ago when the Wallowa economy crashed.

“I was working for the Forest Service, the only Indian walking around there, and I was approached by this economic development guy from the city of Wallowa,” Conner recalled. “He said he thought the Indians could save this county. I had to laugh at that.”

Connor’s, a Navy Vet, who knows the Nez Perce are more appreciated overseas than in Oregon. “I was in Spain once, and this guy said to me, ‘You’re Indian, right? What are you, Sioux?’ I told him I was Nez Perce, and his face lit up. He said, ‘Nez Perce! Chief Joseph.” Connor says, “We’re pretty close to being home.”

$250,000 has already been raised to build a Nez Perce cultural and interpretive center on 160 acres on a river bluff just outside Wallowa, and the locals are looking for more money.

Nez Perce Soy Redthunder, a descendant of Joseph who lives on the Colville Indian Reservation where Young Joseph is buried, said, “The whites may look at it as a economic plus, but we look at it as homecoming.” Because anti-Indian sentiment lingers in the valley, Redthunder says “I don’t think we want to rush in there and take over the county, but I see a serious effort to return the Nez Perce people to the Wallowa Valley.”

“We’re just bunch of white folks — we didn’t have a clue at first,” said Terry Crenshaw, one of the leaders behind the effort to build a cultural and interpretive center.

Written by: Starborn

Official Nez Perce Home Page


Nez Perce Language

Nez Perce Family Tree

Kalat’sa = Grandfather Pilak’a = Grandfather
El’e = Grandmother Kat’sa = Grandmother
Piimx = Uncle Piitx = Uncle
Pist = Father (aka Tota’ = daddy) Pik’e = Mother (aka It’sa = mommy)
Pisis = Aunt (aka T’sit’sa) Pek’ex = Aunt (aka Kek’e)
Piyep = Older Brother Pehet = Older Sister
Ask’up = Younger brother of male
K’anis = Younger sister to
Pekt = Brother to older sister
At’sip = Sister to older
Yatsa = Informal for older brother
Nene’ = Older sister
At sk’a = Informal for younger brother
Ayi = Younger sister of female

Note: The terms for cousins are the same as those for brother and sister.

The Nez Perce people lived with the season and not by the months.
Here is a list of seasons with corresponding months as they apply:

Wilupup = January Time of cold weather, blizzards.
Alat’amal = February Freezing weather, difficult to maintain
firesLatit’al = March Season of first bloom of plants. New life begins.
Q’oyxt’sal = April Season of high rivers from melting snow.
Q’eq’iit’al = May Season of first root, Q’eqiit harvest.Hiilal
Tustimasat’al = June


Season of moving to higher elevation to harvest roots.
Season of bluebark return.
Taya’al = July Season of Tayam (hot) days of summer.
Wawam’mayq’al = August


Season of Chinook Salmon return. Salmon reach the upper tributary streams to spawn
Piq’unmayq’al = September


Nat’soxiwal Season of fish return to rivers for cold weather.
Hoplal = October Season of cold weather. Tamarack turn yellow.
Sexliwal = November


The buck deer ‘running’. Large animals mate. Season of leaves/plants discolor.
Haoq’oy = December Season of doe carrying fetus. No hunting of female game.

Nez Perce words for other peoples of the area.

Nez Perce word


Cheyenne/”Painted Arrows”
(So-so-nah, aka Tewelk’a)
Chippewa/”Porcupine Eaters”
Gros Ventre/”The Big Belly”
Sioux/”The Throat cutters”
The Crow
Kallispel/”Camas eaters”
Colvilles/”Fir people”
Palouse/Partly Nimiipu
Kootenai/”Water People”
Spokane/”Steelhead people”


Yox Kalo’
That’s all / I’m done
Manaa wees?
How are you?
Tats Meywi (Tahts May-we)
Good Morning.
Tats Halaxp (Tahts Ha-lahkp
Good Afternoon.
Tats Kulewit(Tahts Koo-la-wit)
Good Evening.

Days of the week

Before holy/sacred day
Holy/sacred day
After holy/sacred day
Lepit leheyn
Mitat leheyn
Pilept leheyn
Paxat leheyn
La-pit la-hayn
Second day
Me-tot la-hayn
Third day
Pe-lapt la-hayn
Fourth Day
Pok‘hat la-hayn
Fifth Day

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