The camas bulb, much like salmon, has significance for the Nez Perce beyond its value as a source of vitamins and minerals. Camas is a sacred food that is treated with respect and seen as gifts from haniyawá·t (The Creator). The bulbs are still harvested using tú·kes (digging sticks). The long, curved stick of the tú·kes is used for loosening the soil and gently removing the roots, bulbs, and other plants from the ground. This one is made of fire hardened yew and a handle of bone, however, historically they could also be made from the horns of the big horn sheep (Ovis canadensis). It was probably made in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Many modern digging sticks are made from iron. However, they still follow the time-honored design to insure that not a great deal of soil was distributed, and to make the field look as though no one had been there. The modern tú·kes still has a pointed tip, designed to only harvest one root at a time.
Wood, horn. L 20.5, W 3.2, Dia 1.8 cm
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 8715