Nez Perce, a N. county of Idaho, bounded N. by the Clearwater river, E. by Montana, S. by Salmon river, and W. by Oregon and Washington territory, from which it is separated by the Snake river; area, 7,350 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 1,607, of whom 747 were Chinese. It is watered by tributaries of the Clearwater and Salmon rivers. The surface is generally rugged and mountainous. The valley of the Clearwater contains extensive arable lands, and Camas prairie in the N. W. corner is very fertile. Gold is mined to some extent. The chief productions in 1870 were 1,970 bushels of wheat, 6,050 of oats, 3.595 of barley, 3,780 of potatoes, and 18,900 lbs. of butter. There were 534 horses, 916 milch cows, 1,076 other cattle, and 542 swine. Capital, Lewiston.
Nez Perces, a tribe of American Indians, now in Idaho, belonging to the Sahaptin family. They are said to call themselves Numepo, and are styled by Lewis and Clarke Chopunnish. The origin of their present name is uncertain, for they are not known to have pierced their noses. The Wallawallas and Palooses are kindred tribes. They were estimated at 8,000 on the Clearwater and Lewis rivers, where they had a fine grazing country. They made a treaty of peace with Lewis and Clarke, which they have adhered to. Capt. Bonneville in 1832 acquired influence among them, and a mission under the American board was established in 1836, when the tribe numbered about 4,000. A school was opened, laws were adopted, a government was formed, and attempts were made to advance agriculture. But the mission was suspended in 1847, after the murder of the Rev. Mr. Whitman by the Cayuses. They had only 50 acres under cultivation in 1857. In the Oregon Indian war the mass of the tribe remained friendly, saving the lives of Gov. Stevens and others in 1855, and covering Col. Steptoe's retreat.
When Col. Wright asked the head chief what they wanted, he replied: "Peace, ploughs, and schools." A treaty was made in 1854 disposing of part of their land, but a portion of the tribe never submitted to it, and the treaty Nez Percea alone went on the reservation. The others are often absent for years on the buffalo plains, occasionally at war with the Sioux. Those on the reservation were soon disturbed by white and Chinese miners after gold was discovered in 1859 This led to the introduction of liquor, and drunkenness now prevails. The Lapwai reservation is in the; X. W. part of Idaho, and is said to contain the best land in that section. The Kamiah reservation is in N. E. Oregon. The two contain 1,925 sq. m. In 1874 there were 1,550 on the reservations, and 350 on small farms off the reservations. The Presbyterians had revived the mission, a stone church had been erected, about 1,800 acres were cultivated, and their property in horses and cattle was estimated at $136,250. There were also 900 Nez Perces in Wallowa valley in the eastern part of Oregon. The New Testament and some school books have been printed in their language.