Studies of "rock writings," both pictograph and petroglyph, indicate that the primitive artist was following a pattern of pictography in the vogue of his area. The drawings were symbolic of religious and ceremonial rites, i.e., puberty. Rich findings have been located along the Snake River depicting the history of the Nez Perce Indian. Education of children was in the form of myths and legends told in large group gatherings in the longhouse during the winter months. Expressions of politeness, etiquette, and proper behavior were usually emphasized. Horror stories indicated treatment by "spirits," if caught. Monsters were obstacles to be conquered. Tribal history and biographical sketches were an important part of education. Apprentice training was the most popular method of teaching established skills, much of the teaching being done by older Indians and parents. A religious experience of a vision quest for the spirit "weyekin" was a part of growing up. The feast of the first fruits in the spring was another important religious ceremony. Religion was a central part of their culture and rules on religion, birth, adolescence, marriage, death and burial were taught. Magic, too. was important with the Shaman (witch doctor) as the leader. Some of these ceremonies were held as recently as 1940-1945.
The Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805 may have been the first contact of the Nez Perces with the whites. Other early contacts were with Catholic and Presbyterian missionaries.
Level of Degree
Individual, Family, and Community Education
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Marie Morrison Howard
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Sanford, Gregory R.. "The Study of Nez Perce Indian education." (1970). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/educ_ifce_etds/81