A Brief List of Books on Nez Perce History and Culture

I’ve put together lists of books on the Nez Perce several times over the years, but new books keep coming out, sometimes new books with “old” information not covered in previous books. Two wonderful examples in the current list are those edited by Dennis Baird, Diane Mallickan, and W.R. Swagerty, Encounters with the People, and the Nez Perce Nation Divided. Both deal with original written and oral accounts of the people in crucial years leading up to the 1863 “Liar’s Treaty.”

I won’t pretend to be exhaustive, to do a serious and complete bibliography of books on the Nez Perce. We have a dozen more on our library shelves and/or in the sales shop downstairs! Maybe someday.

For now, there’s this. And if I’ve left out something important, or if you have favorites that I do not mention, please let me know:

Axtell, Horace, and Margo Aragon, A Little Bit of Wisdom: Conversations with a Nez Perce Elder
Horace Axtell was an elder and religious leader in Idaho, with strong ties with the Seven Drums
leaders from Umatlla and Colville. A delightful man recently diseased.

Baird, Mallikan,, and Swagerty, editors. Encounters with the People
Original written and oral accounts of Nez Perce life to 1858.

Baird, Mallikan,, and Swagerty, editors. The Nez Perce Nation Divided
Picking up on Encounters, firsthand accounts of Events leading up to the 1863 Treaty,
the “liar’s treaty” that divided the Tribe.

Bartlett, Grace, The Wallowa Country, 1867-77.
An almost week by week account of the last decade of Nez Perce tenure—and the beginnings of White settlement—in the Wallowas.

Evans, Steve, and Pinkham, Allen Sr., Lewis and Clark Among the Nez Perce
Detailed account of the Corps of Discovery in Nez Perce Country

Evans, Steve, Voice of the Old Wolf
Full-length biography of Lucullus V. McWhorter, friend of the Nez Perce and compiler of Yellow Wolf (see below)

Greene, Jerome, Beyond Bear’s Paw: The Nez Perce Indians in Canada
Almost 300 Nez Perce did make it across the Canadian border at Bear’s Paw. Many, but not all,
found their ways back to reservations in the US.

Hunn, E.S., Morning Owl, Thomas, Cash Cash, P.E., Karson Engum, Jennifer, Caw Pawa Laakni: They Are Not Forgotten, Sahaptian Place Names.
Eastern Oregon and Washington Place Names in Native languages. Maps & translations.

Josephy, Alvin M. Jr., The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest
Still the definitive account of the Nez Perce people and all that preceded their meeting with White People, their removal from the Wallowa, and their War.

Josephy, Alvin M. Jr., Nez Perce Country
The short version of above. Very readable history

Landeen, Dan, and Allen Pinkham Sr., Salmon and his People: Fish and Fishing in Nez Perce Culture
A fine mix of Coyote stories, history, and biology.

McDonald, Duncan, The Nez Perces: The History of Their Troubles and the Campaign of 1877
Nez Perce mother and fur-trader father, McDonald interviewed White Bird in Canada after the War and wrote it up in the Deer Lodge, MT newspaper. Recent reproduction.

McWhorter Lucullus V., Yellow Wolf: His Own Story
McWhorter was a West Virginia eccentric who had moved West and established a ranch near Yakima, Washington. He met and befriended the Nez Perce from the Colville Reservation (Joseph Band), and over a period of years, walked the length of the Nez Perce War retreat with Yellow Wolf, a War survivor. First person account of NP War

McWhorter Lucullus V., Hear Me My Chiefs
Nez Perce history and legend, as recorded by McWhorter

Nerburn, Kent, Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce
Good and readable account. Especially good on what happened to the Nez Perce after the War of 1877, from Montana to Indian Territory and finally, in 1885, back West (but not to Oregon)

Sharfstein, Daniel, Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War
A dual biography of Chief Joseph and his primary adversary in the 1877 War, Civil War General Howard. Howard had been head of the Freedman’s Bureau, in charge of the freed slaves, after the Civil War. Sharfstein sees NP War as the end of Civil War Reconstruction.

West, Elliot, The Last Indian War
Putting the Nez Perce story and the Nez Perce War into its national context–the Civil War
and Reconstruction, the issue of Indian tribes inside the boundaries of an expanding United
States, and that of citizenship.

Wood, Erskine, Days with Chief Joseph
Erskine’s father, C.E.S Wood, was General Howard’s aide during the Nez Perce War. He became
a friend and supporter of Chief Joseph after the War, and sent his young son to live with the chief
at Nespelem, on the Colville Reservation, in the summers of 1892 and 93

Leave a Reply