Chief Twisted Hair

statue of lewis and clark meeting Nez Perce

Photo:  Creative Commons, 2.0.

The Corps of Discovery encountered the Nez Perce people in late September 1805. They were exhausted from the grueling trek over the Bitterroot Mountains and the sight of the friendly Nez Perce must have been somewhat comforting.

Among the Nez Perce leaders who offered guidance was Walamottinin, or Twisted Hair. William Clark described him as “a Cheerful man with apparant siencerity.”

Twisted Hair and other chiefs met at council with the Captains. However, communication was difficult because the Nez Perce spoke a notably different dialect than many of the Indians to the east. The council was reduced to an exchange of gifts, but both groups seemed satisfied.

The Corps remained among the Nez Perce for several days preparing for the rest of their journey. Twisted Hair and two of his sons helped Clark find good timber for making canoes, and the Captains traded goods for horses, which they temporarily left in the tribe’s care.

When the Corps returned in May 1806, they stayed near the lodges of the Nez Perce, reclaimed their horses and prepared to re-cross the mountains.

This statue, by Douglas Hyde, depicts the Captains meeting with Walamottinin. It stands on the grounds of the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, Nez Perce National Historical Park

Last updated: July 30, 2019