• Nez Perce National Historical Park. Front Page banner photograph is of Heart of the Monster, an ancient place where the Nez Perce creation story originates. The secondary page photograph is of Nez Perce beadwork.

    Nez Perce

    National Historical Park ID,MT,OR,WA

Weippe Prairie

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Camas blooming on Weippe Prairie.

Nez Perce National Historical Park

In the summer months the Nez Perce would come out of the river valleys and onto the surrounding prairies to harvest roots and berries and to hunt. Nestled against the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains, Weippe Prairie played host to several Nez Perce bands. In mid-September of 1805 the Lewis and Clark made contact with the Nez Perce for the first time.

Unprepared for the arduous trek over the Bitterroot Mountains, Captain Clark and a small group of hunters went ahead of the main party in search of food. When they entered the Weippe Prairie, they encountered three frightened Nez Perce boys hiding in the grass. Clark gave them small presents and "sent them forward to the village." The Nez Perce people, nervous over then intentions of these strangers, agreed to accept them into their land. After Lewis and Clark reunited on September 22, 1805, they spoke with a head man known as Twisted Hair trading gifts, passing the pipe and acquiring information about the country.

To read what Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals, you can read that entry as a web page, MSWord document (26.5 kb) or as an Adobe pdf (19.3 kb).

Did You Know?

Original art work by Roy Anderson depicting Lewis and Clark meeting the Nez Perce for the first time.

In September of 1805 Lewis and Clark crossed into Nez Perce country. A debate ensued among the Nez Perce. Should they assist these strangers or attack them? A female Nez Perce elder, Wetxuuwíis (Wet-k'hoo-wees)urged her people to do them no harm. Her words were heeded; the expedition was welcomed.