Palouse people

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Palouse-Colville Family (1905)
University of Washington Digital Collections
Regions with significant populations
 United States (Washington) (Oregon) (Idaho)
English, Salishan, Sahaptin
Related ethnic groups
Colville, Sanpoil, Nespelem, Sinixt, Wenatchi, Entiat, Methow, Southern Okanagan, Sinkiuse-Columbia, and the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph's band

The Palouse /pəˈls/ are a Sahaptin tribe recognized in the Treaty of 1855 with the United States along with the Yakama. It was negotiated at the 1855 Walla Walla Council. A variant spelling is Palus. Today they are enrolled in the federally recognized Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and some are also represented by the Colville Confederated Tribes.


The people are one of the Sahaptin-speaking groups of Native Americans living on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and North Central Idaho.

The people of the region lived in three main groups, the Upper, Middle, and Lower bands. Traditional lands included areas around waterways such as the Columbia, Snake and Palouse rivers.

The ancestral people were nomadic, following food sources through the seasons. The Palus people gathered with other native peoples for activities such as food-gathering, hunting, fishing, feasting, trading, and celebrations that included dancing, sports and gambling. They lived near other groups including the Nez Perce, Wanapum, Walla Walla, and Yakama peoples.

In October 1805, Lewis and Clark met with the tribe, although most were away from the area for fall food-gathering and hunting. Lewis and Clark presented one of the expedition's silver peace medals to Chief Kepowhan. The Diaries of the Corps of Discovery describe the people as a separate and distinct group from the Nez Percé.

The people were expert horsemen. The term Appaloosa is probably a derivation of the term "Palouse horse." They bred the horses for their distinct markings. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the United States Army captured and slaughtered hundreds of tribal horses to cripple the tribe during the Indian Wars .

Notable Palouse[edit]

Upper Palouse Chiefs

  • Hahtalekin (also known as Taktsoukt Jlppilp - “Echo” or “Red Echo”), chief of the Palus Band (or Palus proper), who lived at the confluence of the Snake and Palouse rivers. His band were all of the buffalo-hunter-class. During the flight with the Nez Perce, his following was made up of 16 men.
  • Tilcoax ("Wolf Necklace") led the Palouse warriors during the Skitswish (Coeur d'Alene) war in 1858, fighting against Maj. Steptoe and Col. Wright troops.
  • Husishusis Kute (Husis Husis Kute, Hush-hush-cute - “Bald Head”, “Naked Head”), was leader and tooatMedicine man or Shaman, or Prophet — of the Wawawai Band. Its territory was along the Snake River below Lewiston, 50 miles up the Snake River from where the Palouse enters it.
Sahaptin Tribal delegates in Washington D.C.


  • Chalfant, Stuart A. (1974). Ethnohistorical reports on aboriginal land use and occupancy: Spokan Indians, Palus Indians, Columbia Salish, Wenatchi Salish. Garland Publishing. ISBN 0-8240-0782-4.
Note: S. A. Chalfant's report was presented before the United States Indian Claims Commission as docket no. 161, 222, 224.
Note: One and a half columns of text published in the September 23, 1858 issue of The Press, Philadelphia. The newspaper story quotes dispatches sent by Col. G. Wright regarding an "expedition against Northern Indians, camp on the Spokane River, (W.T.), one and a half miles below the Falls, September 6, 1858."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]