on a riverine system, allowed the Nimi'ipuu a diversity of resources
not easily had by the Sosoni' & Bannock
Peoples to the south.
men hunted large game animals which lived in the mountains bordering
the rivers, and small game such as rabbit, squirrel, and marmot which
lived in the neighboring valleys. Game birds were also common in this
area of river drainage. Ducks, geese and grouse would have been available
in itself was a bountiful resource. Game birds would not only seek it
out on their yearly migrations, but the People used the water systems
for transportation, drinking, and as a source for fish. Many varieties
of fish were included in the diet of the Nimi'ipuu. Salmon, dolly varden,
trout, suckers, sturgeon, lampreys and squawfish would be either speared
of trapped in weirs.
women gathered and prepared many roots, such as camas, wild carrot and
onion, kouse and bitterroot. Berries were also available in the form
of gooseberries, serviceberries, hawthorneberries, currants and chokecherries.
Pine nuts and sunflower seeds were
also gathered and processed by grinding with mortar and pestle.
Images: Idaho Museum of Natural History
The grassy valleys which provided
roots, seeds and forage for large game also provided grazing for horses.
Horses had not been native in Idaho for 10,000 years, having become
extinct in North America after the climatic change at the close of the
Pleistocene Epoch. The Spanish conquest of America's southwest, however,
ensured that horses would gradually spread throughout the Great Basin
and Columbia Plateau.
The Nimi'ipuu acquired horses from peoples who had contact with the
Spanish in California. The impact of the horse upon the people resulted
in changes. With the aid of the horse as transportation, and a hunting
partner, the Nimi'ipuu were able to travel into Montana in pursuit of
bison which increased the wealth and food reserves of the tribe considerably.
Horses were bred for strength and for endurance, but not necessarily
for colors. Boys were most often the herders of these large herds which
eventually numbered in excess of five to seven horses per each person.
Horses could be sold, traded or acquired also through raids on other
tribes which had horses.
The use of horses as wealth encouraged elaborate horse trapping and
great herds to be kept by families. Since horses were an indication
of an individuals wealth, exchanges of horses would be made as gifts