Non-Treaty Nez Perce


The Non-Treaty Nez Perce (also called the Lower Nez Perce) consisted of bands that formed a portion of the linguistic-cultural group collectively called the Nez Perce. The Treaty Nez Perce were a large number of bands (each with relatively autonomous leaders) led by a band leader named Lawyer who during the Walla Walla council with Governor Stevens had been "appointed" spokesmen for all the Nez Perce for the purposes of the treaty. Non-Treaty Nez Perce included bands led by chiefs Looking Glass and Joseph. In reality, the Nez Perce as a whole could not have been described as a singule political entity. It was Governor Stevens and U.S. government agents that constructed the concept of large tribal "nations" with centralized leadership to simplify the treaty process. The divisions that existed between the Nez Perce bands were apparent in almost every negotiation between the Nez Perce and Government officials from 1855 to 1877.

Ronald P. Glowen


(For more information on the details and impact of these divisions within the Nez Perce, see Colin F. Taylor, ed., The Native Americans: The Indigenous People of North America (New York: Smithmark Publishers Inc., 1991), 109-116; Kent D. Richards, Isaac Stevens: Young Man in a Hurry, 2nd ed. (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1993), 218-222.)