The Nez Perce used small mesh nets attached to a pole for “dip-netting” and larger nets that ran completely across a river. Fishnets were made by the men from Indian hemp that they obtained from the women. They were woven using a needle-like device called a net gauge to insure uniformity. The one here pictured here is a reproduction based on an original in the Field Museum in Chicago. The gauge is made by weaving two sharpened wooden stakes together by jute. Larger nets were weighted down by cobbles with holes drilled in them to serve as net sinkers. The smaller sinker has a buckskin thong that was attached to the net.
Fish Net [left]
Netting for salmom dip net, nez perce origin, of all natural hemp fiber made into two-ply twist stranded cordage. Netting is in squares approximately 5.5 cm each that are tied in square knots with two half hitches on outer rim.
Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum). L 1.7 , W1.58 m
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 9668
Net Sinker [bottom right]
Stone, buckskin. Dia 8.0 cm
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 2252
Net Gauge [middle right]
The fish netting tool is made of two cedar sticks with sharpened, pointed ends that are lashed together with natural jute plant cordage in two-ply twist strands. The tool is used to measure or gauge netting opening in traditional Nez Perce hemp fishnets during the net knotting process.
Cedar, jute. L 22.6 , W 1.6 cm
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 6197
Net Sinker [bottom center]
Circular stone with a hole drilled through for attaching lines. Sinkers were attached to various kind of fishing gear and traps in streams.
Stone. Dia 15.0 cm
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 372