Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 4, Fall 2009, pp. 324-325
The Nimiipuu are most associated with the Columbia Basin rather than the Great Plains. Yet some Nimiipuu groups and their western allies lived for a year or more in the Northern Plains during the early to mid-1800s. There they followed a bison-hunting life and linked the region to the Columbia River trading network. Nimiipuu were so much a part of the region that they were signatories to the United States' 1855 Treaty with the Blackfeet negotiated by Isaac I. Stevens.
Nimiipuu knowledge of the northern Great Plains decided the "escape" route from their homelands that was the Nez Perce War of 1877, which is how readers will recognize them. Less well known are Chief Joseph's and other leaders' efforts to return to their homeland. Few people today know the story of the Nimiipuu's 1877-85 sojourn through Hell-Eeikish Pah-in the Indian Territory and their return to the Northwest. Their deeply traumatic experience is little known even among today's generation of Nimiipuu.