The Nez Perce are a tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the Pacific Northwest region of the United States at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Nez Perce's name for themselves is Ni-Mii-Puu (pronounced nee-mee-poo), which means simply "the People." The Nez Perce territory covered parts of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, in an area surrounding the Snake River and the Clearwater River. The Nez Perce, as many western Native American tribes, were migratory and would travel with the seasons, according to where the most abundant food was to be found at a given time of year. This migration followed a predictable pattern from permanent winter villages through several temporary camps, nearly always returning to the same locations year after year. They were known to go as far east as the Great Plains, hunting American Bison and fishing for salmon at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River.
Probably the best known leader of the Nez Perce was Chief Joseph, who led his people in their struggle to retain their identity in the face of U.S. encroachments on their land. Chief Joseph’s name meant, "thunder coming up over the land from the water". Referred to as the ‘Nez Perce Warrior of Peace’, he was known for his strong stance against the U. S. Government to segregate his people onto reservations. He was born near Oregon's Wallowa Valley in 1840 and died in exile on the Colville Indian Reservation in North Central Washington in 1904.
Chief of Nez Perce, Chief Joseph