| The Nez Percé
or Sahaptin of later writers, the Chopuunish (corrupted from
Tsútpe(li) of Lewis and Clank, their discoverers, were
found in 1805 occupying a large area in what is now western Idaho,
north east Oregon, and south east Washington, on lower Snake
river and its tributaries. They roamed between the Blue Mountains
in Oregon and the Bitter Root Mountains in Idaho, and according
to Lewis and Clark sometimes crossed the range to the headwaters
of the Missouri.
By certain writers they have been classed
under two geographic divisions Upper Nez Percé and Lower
Nez Percé. The latter were found by Bonneville in 1834
to the north and west of the Blue Mountains on several of the
branches of Snake river, where they were neighbors of the Cayuse
and Walla Walla. The Upper Nez Percé held the Salmon river
country in Idaho in 1834 and probably also at the same time the
Grande Ronde valley in eastern Oregon but by treaty of 1855 they
ceded a large part of this territory to the United States.
The reservation in which they were confined
at that time included the Wallowa valley in Oregon, as well as
a large district in Idaho. With the discovery of gold and the
consequent influx of miners and settlers the Oregon districts
were in demand, and a new treaty was made by which the tribe
was confined to the reservation at Lapwai, Idaho.