Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Nez Perce Diet

Spirit of the Mountain, my August release is the first book of a trilogy about siblings who were made spirits by the Creator. While I made up the spirit world and their shape shifting and powers, the day to day living of the Nez Perce I tried to keep as factual as the information I could find.

At the time of my story the Nez Perce were nomadic, living off the land and its bounties. They had horses, but had yet to be introduced to cattle. Salmon, eel, and steelhead, were commodities of their region starting in May and early June and ran through the summer. They traveled first to the lower streams and worked their way to the high tributaries. The fish were caught, some eaten fresh others smoked and either stored for later use or used for trade. There was much rejoicing and ceremonies when the harvest was successful.

Kouse and other early roots were gathered during the spring while they were still along the lower streams fishing. They would meet at meadows in the high country once the snow had melted and gather roots. The women used sticks to dig the roots form the ground. They gave thanks to the Creator for growing the food that help sustain them through the winter months.

During the warm months they harvested wild plants, berries, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds. In the meadows they also gathered wild onion, carrots, and other plants. On the Forested mountainsides, they picked hawthorn, serviceberries, chokecherries, blackberries, and huckleberries.

Their diet also consisted of game animals and birds. They preserved what could not be eaten at once and had caches where they stored the preserved food until it was needed. So while they led a different life than the White man was used to, in reality they were not that much different in their methods of staying well fed.

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain
Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, has been fated to save her people ever since her vision quest. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, her world is torn apart.

Himiin is the spirit of the mountain, custodian to all creatures including the Nimiipuu. As a white wolf he listens to Wren’s secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he cannot prevent her leaving the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin must leave the mountain to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…


Wren’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. “My gift is to save The People. The weyekin who came to me in my vision quest said this.” She wrapped her arms around herself as if staving off a cold breeze.
Himiin hated that they argued when they should relish their time together. He moved to her, drawing her against his chest, embracing her. The shape of her body molded to his. Her curves pressed against him. Holding her this way flamed the need he’d tried to suppress.
He placed a hand under her chin, raising her face to his. The sorrow in her eyes tugged at his conscience. To make her leaving any harder was wrong. But having experienced her in his arms, he was grieved to let her go. Even for the sake of their people.
Her eyelids fluttered closed. Her pulse quickened under his fingers. Shrugging off the consequences, he lowered his lips to hers. They were softer than he imagined. Her breath hitched as he touched her intimately. Parting his lips, he touched her with his tongue, wanting to see if she tasted as sweet as she smelled.

Paty Jager
Buy Link: www.thewildrosepress.com

Myths, Fables- all teach lessons

My August release, Spirit of the Mountain is available already in print format at my publisher. The Wild Rose Press. It’s my first attempt at a paranormal, but to me it feels like a historical. I did major research into the Nez Perce or Nimiipuu tribe to be able to write this story about the daughter of a chief who is asked for in marriage by a warrior of the Blackfeet(Blackleg) tribe which at the time of the story were according to the words of a current Nimiipuu “considered the same as how you considered the Huns”. I used this fear and hatred throughout the story when the heroine is talking and thinking about living with the Blackleg(the name the Nimiipuu called the Blackfeet).

I not only researched books on their day to day living conditions, their society, and their beliefs, I also read as much as I could in their own words. Myths and legends books and any snippet I could get that was in English but translated directly from their words. It helped me to get a feel for their speaking and cadence to their dialogue.

Here is a Nimiipuu story that I copied from the Nez Perce loop I’m on. As you can see by reading the story all of the stories handed down through the generations were like our fables. They taught a lesson.

Nez Perce boy legend

A long time ago there lived in our Blue Mountains a boy who was an only child. His parents had pampered and spoiled him until he was quite selfish and disagreeable.

His parents died and he was obliged to live with the rest of the tribe as an orphan. Because of his selfishness he was not well liked and the other children did not like to play with him. Some of the children learned that the camp was to be moved and made plans to get rid of the spoiled boy.

No one told him that they were moving and that morning they took him out to the high cattails to play hide-and-seek. They would hide and then call, “Who! Who!” Part of the time the boy was following his own echo. The children slipped away and hurried back to the camp in time to go.

The boy wandered about listening to his own echo for some time before he decided that the others had left. When he found his way back to camp it was deserted.

He was hungry and by rummaging about he found some roots that had been left. Still hungry, he decided to try some fishing. With a thorn on an improvised string he made from fibers and hair left at the camp, he placed a worm on the thorn and fished. Thus he secured fish.

Not wishing to eat it raw, his mind turned to fire, and investigation proved that someone had banked a bed of coals and he soon had a camp fire going.

Night was approaching. Where would he sleep? At last he remembered the little stone and mud igloo down by the stream where the people had taken their sweat baths. He crawled into the igloo and slept quite comfortably.

In the morning, he decided to try fishing, but this time a strange thing happened. When he felt something on his line he pulled steady and hard. Slowly it came, but it was not a fish. It was a boat loaded with many provisions and an extremely homely old lady. The old lady spoke to him, “Don’t be afraid little boy, I will not hurt you. I am your Grandmother Experience. I have come to help you.”

Grandmother Experience lived with him, after that and helped him do many things – make bows and arrows to kill game, gather food, build shelters, and many other things.

Time went on and the boy lived with the grandmother and grew up big and strong, but wondered where his people were. He commenced traveling about in hopes of finding them. One day he did find them and they marveled at the change he had undergone. He was no longer a spoiled selfish boy. Grandmother Experience had made a self-reliant, pleasant young man of him.

If you’d like to read an excerpt of my book Spirit of the Mountain you can visit my website: www.patyjager.net and click on paranormal. While you’re there enter my website contest.
I’ll be blogging for six days straight at Seriously Reviewed starting tomorrow, Sunday July 25th. Come on by and read about my hero and heroines from my last two releases. The last day I’m giving away a pdf of Doctor in Petticoats my historical western that released in June. And starting on Sunday August 8th I’m doing a six day blog tour with a contest. Check out my blog to learn more.

Nez Perce Indians and Pregnancy

I’m working on the second book of a trilogy set among the Nez Perce Indians of Idaho, NE Oregon, and SE Washington. In this book the heroine is pregnant, so I’ve been spending hours reading books about the Nez Perce customs and social living aspects to learn all I can about pregnancy and child birth.

The Nez Perce women had specific jobs. They gathered roots, berries and herbs as well as the firewood. It was their job to keep the fire going all night during the winter months. They were the cooks, the ones who dried and stored the meat, fish, berries and roots. Tanned the hides, made the clothing, wove baskets and constructed the dwellings. They did everything needed to sustain a family other than hunt, prepare weapons, and fight. If need be, they could hunt for smaller animals, fight, and take care of weapons though it was not one of their jobs.

During battles women provided fresh horses, food, and water for the warriors, tended the wounded, warned others of danger, directed children and the old people where to hide and how to leave when their encampments were attacked. If a husband was shot they could pick up his gun and fight. They also cooked and gathered wood during attacks, keeping the children, old people, and warriors fed during the attacks and battles.

Pregnant women still did most of the chores right up until the moment they started labor. Some would have miscarriages from long periods of riding horses in the last months of pregnancy. Usually during campaigns of fighting.

If a woman was pregnant they believed their man would have bad luck hunting. She was also not allowed to see any part of a kill—blood, skinning. They feared her child would be born deformed. They also didn’t touch, view, or ridicule any deformed animals or humans, fearing it would cause their child the same misfortune. They didn’t tie knots or do things symbolic of obstructing the birth.

A wide strip of buckskin was tied around their bellies. This was believed to protect the child. After the birth, this strip was burned or buried, giving the child a healthy, strong body. They did everything to keep the baby safe. The Nez Perce wanted to build a large strong tribe.

When a woman started labor she was isolated in a small dwelling with either an older family member or a mid-wife. If there were complications the Ti-wet (medicine man) was called in. The dwelling had a hole dug in the middle of the structure. The blood and after birth were put in this hole and buried. The umbilical cord was kept in a small leather pouch attached to the cradleboard. It is believed to be bad luck to destroy such an intimate part of the baby.

The cradle board is made by a relative. The baby is transported and tended in the board until he is ready to walk. Children were breast fed for several years. This was one of their ways to contribute to birth control. Other ways were with herbs.

This is just a minuscule picture of what I’ve learned and hope to incorporate into my paranormal historical book.

Sources: Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990- Caroline James; Nee Me Poo – Allen P. Slickpoo Sr. and Deward E. Walker Jr.
Photos: First Americans

Paty Jager