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Daily Life
Local food sources were plentiful and varied. Families traveled seasonally to collect food for immediate needs, and to prepare and store for the winter.
Fish, especially salmon, formed a major part of the Nimiipuu diet, as well as the Pacific lamprey eel and crayfish. Fish were caught with scoop nets, seines, hook and line, harpoons or spears, shot with arrows, and trapped in weirs. They were split, cleaned, hung on poles to dry, or smoked on wooden racks. Men hunted elk, deer, bear, beaver, game birds and other animals.

Different plants were gathered through the seasons. Roots, such as kouse, camas, bitterroot, and wild carrot, were an important food source. These root foods were boiled and baked and some dried and stored for the winter. Berries, including huckleberries, raspberries, choke cherries, wild cherries, and nuts, tubers, stalks, and seeds rounded out the diet. Perishable and dried foods were stored in skin containers, large cedar root baskets, and cached in pits close to the harvest site.

Today the Nez Perce Tribe and their Northwest Tribal partners are leading the effort to preserve and revitalize wild salmon runs of the Columbia River drainage. Root diggers are also taking a proactive role to protect the remaining areas where root foods can still be found.