We, the Nez Perce people, call ourselves Nimi'ipuu, which means
the "real people" or "we the people."
A tribal elder (Cecil Carter) mentioned a name we
(Nimi'ipuu) used to call ourselves before we had horses, the name meant we walked out of the woods or walked out of the
mountains, Cuupn'itpel'uu. He said it was an old word, before we used
Southern neighboring tribes (Shoshone,
Bannock) referred to the Nimi'ipuu as "people under the tule" because
Nimi'ipuu's main dwelling
was the tule mat-covered, double lean-to long house. The principal
dwelling switched from tule mat-covered long house to a conical structure (tipi)
by the 1800's. Tule is a long thin reed that when wet slightly increases
in size to make a tight seal on the tules (tules are tied together to form the
walls). In the summer time the tules allow the air to flow and circulate.
The southern neighbors also referred to Nimi'ipuu as "Khouse eaters"
because we Nimi'ipuu not only hunted for food but
we also gathered roots and berries. One of the roots we gathered was a
root we call khouse. Khouse is used for food and medicine.
"Nez Perce" was given to us through an interpreter with the 1805 Lewis
and Clark expedition. The French Canadians interpreted the meaning as
"Pierced Nose." However this cultural practice was not common to
(information by the Nez Perce language department and the
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