By Nancy Bonvillain
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Extra info for The Nez Perce (The History & Culture of Native Americans)
They were said to be the largest of all of the indigenous groups in the Plateau region. They impressed the Americans, not only with their numbers, but also with their wealth in horses, their expertise as traders, and their hospitality and generosity as hosts. Despite the friendliness of these first encounters, whether unwitting or deliberate, the Lewis and Clark expedition opened the door to disruptions in the lives and security of the Nez Perce and other peoples in the region. indd 62 9/7/10 10:49 AM Strangers Bearing New Goods 63 out to meet me with great Caution and Conducted us to a large Spacious Lodge which he told me by Signs was the Lodge of his great Chief who had Set out 3 days previous with all the Warriers of the nation to war on a South West derection and would return in 15 or 18 days.
Bands had councils made up of each village’s leaders. Like villages, band councils selected a leader, usually the person who was the leader of the largest village in that grouping. indd 37 9/7/10 10:48 AM 38 THE NEZ PERCE the defense of their member villages. Several bands might similarly be joined into a larger grouping called a composite band. Each composite band had a council composed of the leaders of the various bands. Prominent community leaders and warriors were also members of these councils.
Specific choices might be made on the basis of available resources, the composition of already existing households, and personal preferences. Younger couples and individuals, in particular, tended to be quite mobile. They might change their residence when convenient and could always depend on the hospitality of their relatives. As people grew older, they tended to have more stable living arrangements. Elderly couples were especially likely to live permanently in one place, attracting younger relatives for their knowledge, experience, and good reputation.