A Look at Daily Life
The Nez Perce were a Nomadic tribe and one of the most influential in Northwest America. The men were hunters of game and often at war with their southern neighbors. The influence of the Nez Perce came from their great skill with horses and their ability to trade with thrift and shrewdness. In general, the Nez Perce people were in good health, fond of their children and cared well for their elders in the tribe. They believed that caring for the elderly was so important because they were the ones who passed on the history to the young ones. It was their way of keeping their heritage.
The women did the majority of the work on a daily basis. Digging roots, making food for their families, cleaning fish that were caught, preparing hides from the animals killed, caring for the children and carrying homes and belongings when they moved; were all part of the women's work.
As for the men, they were convinced that they were too good to do most of those things; instead planning wars, hunting, fishing, holding meetings and smoking and trading with the people who came through their land, whether Indian or white.
The Nez Perce were also known as the best horsemen in the area, who bred their own horses and traded them very shrewdly with those who wished to purchase them. Their exceptional way with horses and long hunting trips quickly spread their language around the area so much that it became the universal language for most of the tribes around them.
Early accounts of Americans coming onto their land describe them as thieves, somewhat insolent and ungracious. Later on, a man by the name of Captain Bonneville lived among the Nez Perce for a few years. As he learned their language and ways the character he describes is far different. When he and a group of men went back through their land on a trip, they found hospitality, kindness and gracious giving. The Nez Perce were described by his men as very welcoming, anxious to help them, and full of peace and honesty.