A Project of the Idaho GenWeb


Nez Percé Indian Reservation

This 770,000-acre reservation of prairies, rivers and canyons is home to 3,200 Nez Perce Indians, making it the largest in the state by size. The tribe’s aboriginal territory included over 13 million acres of the areas now known as northern Idaho, northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.

In 1855, the Nez Perce signed a treaty with the U.S. Government reserving 7.5 million acres of this land. But after gold was discovered on the reservation in 1860, the tribal lands were reduced to the current size.

In 1887 the Dawes Act opened the reservation to homesteading that resulted in non-Indians owning parcels of fee-patented land within the reservation next to Indian trust allotments. That created a "checkerboard" pattern of land ownership on the reservation and problems over jurisdiction have resulted.

Today the Nez Perce own 86,248 acres of land and individual tribal members own an additional 37,950 acres.*

*From Idaho Natives

"The jurisdiction of the Nez Perce Tribe shall extend to all lands within the original confines of the Nez Perce reservation boundaries as established by treaty; and extra-territorial jurisdiction for the purposes of protecting the rights of the Nez Perce Tribe as guaranteed by treaties with the United States of American; and also to such other lands as may be hereafter acquired by or for the Nez Perce Indians of Idaho." (taken from 1999 Revised Constitution and by laws of the Nez Perce Tribe)

Before the White man came to settle the northwest the Nimi'ipuu lived in peaceful groups traveling seasonally with the deep canyons cut by the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers.

The Nimi'ipuu traveled across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.  The tradition homeland of the NiMiiPuu is North Central Idaho, including areas in Southeastern Washington, Northeastern Oregon with usual and accustomed areas in Western Montana and Wyoming.   The Nimi'ipuu aboriginal territory was approximately 17 million acres or approximately 70 thousand square kilometers or 27 thousand square miles; including the Clearwater River Basin, and the South and Middle forks of the Salmon River Basin.

Today the Nimi'ipuu live all over the world, but the Nez Perce Reservation is located in North Central Idaho.*

*From Nez Perce Home Page

 

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