By Robert Ross McCoy

This paintings makes a speciality of how whites used Nez Perce background, pictures, actions and personalities within the construction of background, constructing a local id right into a nationwide framework.

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Extra info for Chief Joseph, Yellow Wolf and the Creation of Nez Perce History in the Pacific Northwest (Indigenous Peoples and Politics)

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The one plentiful food source on the Columbia Plateau, salmon, drew Indian peoples to the Plateau River system, the Columbia and Snake Rivers as well as to their tributaries, and provided them with a very important source of food for survival. Indian communities in this region either lived on the rivers or came to them seasonally to catch salmon. The Columbia Plateau was not devoid of human habitation, but Indian peoples like the Nez Perce used the region in a seasonal pattern. They wintered in the canyon bottoms and low country on the periphery of the Plateau where it was warmer and less snow fell.

Most Nez Perce lived in the highlands just west of the Bitterroot Mountains and traveled extensively in the Plateau in search of food and for trade. The climate and seasons of the Columbia Plateau varied greatly from surrounding areas, in particular those west of the Cascade Mountain range. The Cascade Range forced storms coming into the Pacific Northwest to deposit precipitation on the western slopes of the mountain range, leaving relatively little moisture available for regions east of the Cascade Mountains.

Shamans or medicine men and women (tiewets or tooats) held important positions within the Nez Perce community and provided vital services. Only a handful of people achieved this position. On their quest as youths, they received the power necessary for the responsibilities of this role in the community. Slickpoo noted that individual Nez Perce, in the Winter Dance, often challenged the spirit or power of each other to see whose spirit was strongest. The person with the strongest wyakin, as demonstrated over a number of years, would “graduate” into becoming a medicine man or woman.

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