For thousands of years, Nimiipuu, or Nez Perce ancestors migrated between forest, river, and prairie environments, harvesting the resources as they came available with the passing seasons.
The Nimiipuu daily rhythms and cycle of life were attuned to the land. For the Nimiipuu, along with other Columbia River Plateau tribes, the seasons of the year defined major activities and celebrations.
Every activity and cultural practice fitted into a seasonal cycle or round. There was a pattern to this movement. It was a purposeful journey rather than random wandering. Families and bands traveled to their usual and accustomed places for hunting, fishing, and harvesting roots and plants.
Seasons varied from year to year. Activities depended on weather conditions, when plants matured, and when fish ran. The Nimiipuu lived on dried foods through the winter. In spring, they gathered the early plants and roots growing in the low river valleys. As the spring run of the Chinook salmon started, the men began to fish. As the snow melted in the mountains and the early run of salmon ended, bands moved to higher elevations.
Nez Perce Forestry Management
Today, the Nez Perce Tribe provides forest management expertise and woodland fire protection
to: · promote healthy ecosystems · produce forest products and income · provide educational services · serve the Nez Perce Tribe, and other owners of the trust lands within the Nez Perce Reservation.
The Nez Perce Tribal Forestry Program strives to build a reservation environment that is clean, diverse, and rich with wholesome populations of plants, animals, and human beings. In so doing, a resilient, working forest can meet current needs of the Tribe while preserving the land base for future generations.
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Preserving Our Way of Life
Hunters and Gatherers
Local food sources were plentiful and varied. Families traveled seasonally to collect food for immediate needs, and to prepare and store for the winter.
Fish, especially salmon, formed a major part of the Nimiipuu diet. Men hunted elk, deer, bear, beaver, game birds and other animals.
Different plants were gathered through the seasons, Roots, such as kouse, camas, bitterroot, and wild carrot, were an important food source. Berries, including huckleberries, raspberries, choke cherries, wild cherries, and nuts, tubers, stalks, and seeds rounded out the diet.
Today the Nez Perce Tribe and their Northwest Tribal partners are leading the effort to preserve and revitalize wild salmon runs of the Columbia
River drainage. Root diggers are also taking a proactive role to protect the remaining areas where root foods can still be found.