The climate in the Clearwater Plateau is arid to semi-arid with hot dry summers and moderately cold winters. Winters are dominated by cool air masses from the Gulf of Alaska and summers by a stationary high-pressure zone over the Pacific Northwest coast.
As inhabitants of the high plateau region between the Rocky Mountains and the coastal mountain system, the Nez Percé are considered to be Plateau Indians. Historically, as one of the easternmost Plateau groups, they also were influenced by the Plains Indians just east of the Rockies.
The Nez Perce once lived in small villages usually located near a stream. During the winter, they lived in more permanent homes called longhouses. Longhouses had A-shaped roofs and floors that were dug a few feet into the ground for warmth. In the summer, some Nez Perce would follow the bison herds and live in teepees.
It’s pronounced “wicky up.” The Nez Perce and other tribes called their beautiful portable homes ” tipis.” You will often see the word spelled tepees or teepees, but the correct spelling is tipi. It means “living place.”
Today, the Nez Perce Tribe is a federally recognized tribal nation with more than 3,500 citizens.
In the winter additional coverings and insulation such as grass were used to help keep the teepee warm. In the center of the teepee, a fire would be built. There was a hole at the top to let out the smoke. The Plains Indians also used buffalo hides for their beds and blankets to keep their homes warm.
Many Nez Perce children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Here is some information about a pinecone game enjoyed by Nez Perce kids.
Nomadic tribes in the Great Plains region either buried their dead, if the ground was soft, or left them on tree platforms or on scaffolds. Other groups, such as the Nez Perce of the Northwest, sacrificed wives, slaves, and a favorite horse of a dead warrior.
Very few Ute people are left and now primarily live in Utah and Colorado, within three Ute tribal reservations: Uintah-Ouray in northeastern Utah (3,500 members); Southern Ute in Colorado (1,500 members); and Ute Mountain which primarily lies in Colorado, but extends to Utah and New Mexico (2,000 members).
The name Sioux is an abbreviation of Nadouessioux (“Adders”; i.e., enemies), a name originally applied to them by the Ojibwa. The Santee, also known as the Eastern Sioux, were Dakota speakers and comprised the Mdewkanton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute, and Sisseton.
All Apaches relied primarily on hunting of wild game and gathering of cactus fruits and other wild plant foods. Hunting was a part of daily life and provided food, clothing, shelter, and blankets. The Apache hunted deer, wild turkeys, jackrabbits, coyote, javelin, fox, beavers, buffalo, bears, and mountain lions.
They also had special drinks now and then. For example, honey or maple syrup was mixed with water to make a punch, and leaves were used to flavor other drinks. The dried leaves of snowberry, wintergreen, and spruce and twigs of raspberry, chokecherry, and wild cherry were dropped into boiling water to make teas.
Chief Joseph was documented wearing his deerskin war shirt not once, but twice: first, in an 1877 photograph taken by John Fouch just after the Nez Perce had surrendered to U.S. soldiers in Montana. The shirt is of the classic sleeved poncho type, made of two soft thin skins, probably deerskin.
The Native Americans in the reservations also make several profit out of their tribal land, for example they are allowed to rent it to industry and enterprises or private tenants, and they are free to pursue farming, stock-breeding, fishing and hunting.
There are five federally recognized tribes located in the state of Idaho: the Shoshone-Bannock, the Shoshone-Paiute, the Coeur d’Alene, the Kootenai, and the Nez Perce.