Tribal Relations

Photo of a Nez Perce rider

The Nez Perce National Forest proudly gets its name from the people who have called this place home for thousands of generations: The Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce call themselves “Nimiipuu” (The People), but French trappers who traded with Nimiipuu mistakenly believed they pierced their noses (a practice of a neighboring tribe) and called them Nez Perce, French for pierced nose.

Although Nez Perce leaders ceded much of the Tribe’s original territory to the US Government in the 1855 and 1863 Treaties, they did not relinquish rights to hunt, fish and gather, or to practice traditional religious and cultural ceremonies on these ancestral homelands.  Today the USDA Forest Service manages much of the Nez Perce Tribe’s ceded territory.  Nez Perce people still maintain strong ties with their homeland and work cooperatively with us as stewards of the precious forest resources.

Congress passed laws giving the Nez Perce Tribe and other tribes status as a sovereign governments. The Nez Perce Treaties, along with subsequent laws and regulations, direct the Forest Service and other federal entities to carefully manage treaty-reserved resources and rights. We work closely with the Tribe’s governing body (Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, or NPTEC) and resource specialists to ensure our programs, projects and policies do not have a negative impact on Nez Perce people’s ability to exercise their treaty rights.

In addition to our strong government-to-government relationship, the Nez Perce Forest and Nez Perce Tribe also boast a nationally recognized watershed restoration partnership . Since 1997, the Nez Perce Tribe and Nez Perce National Forest have completed dozens of watershed restoration projects throughout the Forest. Together we’ve improved riparian areas along streams by constructing 8 miles of fence and protecting over 1,000 acres from grazing impacts. We’ve planted over 30,000 trees along streams or in meadow systems, providing shade to streams and homes to wildlife. Over 170 miles of road have been either decommissioned or improved, decreasing sediment production to streams. At least 15 degraded or undersized culverts have been replaced, making them passable to fish and other aquatic organisms like insects and amphibians. This has opened over 50 miles of habitat previously inaccessible to aquatic species.


Crooked River Valley Rehabilitation Project - Courtesy of the Nez Perce Tribal Department of Fisheries Resource Management