Tiller's Guide to Indian Country - Second Edition

544 LOCATION AND LAND STATUS The Nez Perce Reservation is located in north-central Idaho and encompasses five counties. Several small towns are located within the boundaries of the reservation; Lapwai, on the reservation's western edge, serves as the tribal headquarters and is home to the largest population of tribal members. Kamiah, on the reservation's eastern boundary, contains the second-highest concentration of tribal members and provides social services through the Wa A'Yas Community Building. Other towns within the reservation are predominantly nonIndian. The Treaty of June 11, 1855, established a reservation of some 7.5 million acres. However, the United States reduced the size of the Nez Perce Reservation to 750,000 acres in 1863 after the discovery of gold in the region. An additional 542,000 acres were lost to individual and non-Native ownership as a direct result of the Allotment Act of 1877. Today about 12 percent of the land within the reservation is owned by the Nez Perce Tribe or tribal members. The Nez Perce Tribe is currently raising funds to acquire 60 acres of land in Wallowa County, Oregon. The lands are the site of a proposed housing development adjacent to Old Chief Joseph Cemetery. The area is known to contain at least two archeological finds and is of great cultural and historical importance to the tribe. CLIMATE The reservation experiences an average temperature of 43ºF. The annual rainfall averages 21.6 inches, and snowfall 61 inches. CULTURE AND HISTORY The Nimilpuus originated in the northwest region of the United States. Their ancestral homelands encompassed present-day north-central Idaho, northeastern Oregon, and southeastern Washington. Carbon dating of village sites along the Snake River and its tributaries indicates that the Nimilpuus occupied these regions as long as 11,000 years ago. There are indications of even older settlements. The Nimilpuus encountered the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805. Translators from that group identified the people as Nez Perce, or "pierced nose" (French). The assignment of this term to the Nimilpuus is not clear as the tribe did not practice nose piercing. However, the name was accepted and the tribe became known as the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. In the early nineteenth century, the tribe participated in the fur trade with both Great Britain and America. As more and more settlers began to encroach upon the region, the tension between the Native population and the Euro-American newcomers escalated into violent conflicts. In June 1855 the Nez Perce agreed to cede several million acres to the United States in return for an approximate 7.5 million-acre reservation. In 1863 a new treaty was signed mandating a reduction in the tribe's lands to just 750,000 acres. Often called the "steal treaty", it stripped the Nez Perce of the Wallowa and Imnaha valleys and the land at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, the site of the present-day towns of Lewiston and Clarkston. A number of Nez Perce bands refused to sign the treaty, including the Wallowa Valley Band led by Chief Joseph. A war ensued and resulted in the eventual surrender of the Nez Perce in 1877. Members of the Wallowa Band, among others, retreated north to Canada for a period of four months. Upon their return, the Nez Perce were confined to the new reservation lands. The reservation was further reduced by the effects of theAllotmentAct of 1877. In 1893, the federal government opened all non-allotted Nez Perce lands to the public. These actions resulted in the loss of 542,000 acres of tribal lands. In 1948, the tribe became a self-governing Nation under an adopted constitution and bylaws. As with many other tribes, the Nez Perce have experienced a cultural renaissance during the past half century.Arevival of traditional arts and crafts, dance, and religion has been ongoing since the 1940s. Today, the Nez Perce are involved in writing their own history and reviving the Nez Perce language. GOVERNMENT The Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, a nine-member body elected at large, manages economic development, tribal social service programs, natural resources, and tribal investments. Committee members serve three-year terms, with elections occurring annually. The tribe did not accept the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and is a selfgoverning nation. The current constitution and bylaws were adopted on April 2, 1948. The Nez Perce Tribal Court is involved in implementing and activating laws as set out in the Law and Order Code. The court maintains jurisdiction over most criminal, civil, juvenile, and domestic matters within the reservation. A part-time public defender provides services for tribal members in adult criminal matters, as well as for a few juvenile cases. The University of Idaho provides legal aid interns to practice in the Nez Perce Tribal Court. They provide representation in criminal and juvenile matters. Both of these services are provided at no cost to the clients. The Nez Perce Tribe has numerous governmental departments and programs. They include human resources, law and order, youth affairs, land commission, budget and finance/ credit, natural resources, the court system, enterprise system, and office of the prosecutor, law enforcement, executive direction, and office of legal counsel. The tribe also has the following boards and authorities and, commissions: TERO Commission, NPT Housing Authority, utility board, gaming commission, NMP Health Authority, enterprise board, F&W Commission, LCBC Advisory Committee, foundation board, and retirement board. The Lewis and Clark Program of the tribal government serves to represent the tribe during the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Bicentennial Commemoration between 2003 - 2006. The program works with other tribal, federal, and state agencies to provide accurate and appropriate information about the Nez Perce Tribe and to protect the cultural properties of the tribe in this matter. Projects within the program include oral history and Native traditions, archaeology and historic preservation, ERWM cultural resources, the Nimiipuu language, archival, and the Lapwai Arts Council. ECONOMY The tribe's economy is sustained by revenue earned through its many businesses. Enterprises of the tribe include Nez Perce Tribal Gaming, the Nez Perce Express Store, Aht'wy Plaza RV Park, and the Nez Perce Forest Products. The Nez Perce tribal government contributes greatly to the economy of the reservation as well. The government employs over 1,000 individuals throughout the various tribal businesses and services. Over 700 people are employed by governmental departments and programs. Nez Perce Nez Perce Reservation Federal reservation Nez Perce Nez Perce, Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, and Lewis counties, Idaho Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho P.O. Box 305 Lapwai, ID 83540-0305 208-843-2253 208-843-7354 Fax nezperce.org Total area (BIA realty, 2004) 108,534.78 acres Total area (Tribal source, 2004) 770,453 acres Tribally owned (BIA realty, 2004) 42,767.84 acres Individually owned (BIA realty, 2004) 46,268.49 acres Federal trust (BIA realty, 2004) 19,489.45 acres Individual-Indian trust lands (Tribal source, 2004) 46,250 acres Tribal trust lands (Tribal source, 2004) 43,106 acres Tribal fee lands (Tribal source, 2004) 11,365 acres Fee title lands (Tribal source, 2004) 643,565 acres Tribal fee land outside reservation (Tribal source, 2004) 44,293 acres