Palouse Tribe

Palouse Indian Tribe

This article contains interesting facts, pictures and information about the life of the Palouse Native American Indian Tribe of the Columbia River Plateau region..

The Palouse Tribe
Summary and Definition: The semi-nomadic Palouse tribe were fishers, hunter-gatherers and traders of the Plateau cultural group. The Palouse lived in areas of eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and North Central Idaho. They are famous for breeding the Appaloosa horse that takes its name from Palouse Native Indians.

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Facts about the Palouse Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Palouse Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Palouse tribe live, what clothes did they wear, what did they eat and who were the names of their most famous leaders? Discover what happened to the Palouse tribe with facts about their wars and history.

What language did the Palouse tribe speak?
The Palouse tribe spoke in a Sahaptian dialect of the Penutian language and called themselves the "Pallotepellows" meaning "people living in the gooseberry valley". The name 'Palouse' was derived from the French word 'pelouse' meaning a grassy expanse an reflects the prairies and rich grasslands of their territories.

Who were the allies and enemies of the Palouse tribe?
The allies of the Palouse tribe were many of the other Native American Indians who inhabited the Plateau region including the Cayuse, Walla Walla, Spokane, Coeur D'Alene, Yakama and the Nez Perce. The main enemies of the Palouse tribe were the Great Basin groups to the south, including the Shoshone, Northern Paiute, and the Bannock tribes.


Where did the Palouse tribe live?
The Palouse are people of the Plateau Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Palouse tribe.

  • The tribe lived along the mouth of the Palouse and the south banks of the Columbia and Snake Rivers

  • Land: Fast flowing rivers, lakes, forests and prairies

  • Climate: Warm summers and cold, snowy winters

  • Animals: The  animals included elk, deer, mountain goat, groundhog, coyote, raccoon, bear, fox, porcupine, weasel, beaver and hare

  • Fish: Salmon, steelhead trout

  • Natural Resources: Berries, bulbs, roots and seeds

Map showing Plateau Indian Tribes

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Palouse tribe?
The Palouse tribe were one of the tribes of the Plateau Culture area. They lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle fishing, hunting, or gathering wild plants for food. The Palouse were divided into the Upper, Middle, and Lower bands and lived in pit houses in the winter and tule-mat lodges or tepees in the summer. The introduction of the horse in the 1750's brought about a change in lifestyle and many of the people traveled to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo. The people are famous for breeding the speedy, sturdy, spotted horses now called Appaloosas, that were named after the Palouse tribe.

The Lewis and Clark expedition encountered the Palouse tribe during their explorations. The rich grasslands and prairies of the Palouse territory enabled the tribe to become horse breeders and horse traders. The Palouse adopted many of the ideas of the Great Plains Indians including the use of the tepee which were covered with buffalo hides and some items of clothing also made from buffalo hides.

The Palouse tribe and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark encountered the Plateau Palouse tribe in October 1805.  and Meriwether Lewis, a noted horseman, described the Appaloosa in his journal dated February 15, 1806 "Their horses appear to be of an excellent race. They are lofty, elegantly formed, and durable...some of these horses are pided with large spots of white irregularly scattered and intermixed with black, brown, bay or some other dark color".

Picture of a Cayuse Tepee

Hide Covered Tepee

Picture of a Tule-mat lodge

Tule Mat lodge

What did the Palouse tribe live in?
The Palouse were semi-nomadic and needed shelters that were easy to set up and take down. They lived in one of three shelters, depending on the season. The types of shelters were  a semi-subterranean pit house, a tepee or a tule-mat lodge.

  • Pit houses were winter shelters that were built with logs and sealed for insulation with dirt and grasses. These Palouse homes were built below ground with an entrance and ladder at the top
  • The summer shelters were the tepee and tule-mat lodge, both above ground.
  • Tepees were covered with animal skins but the tule-mat lodge was covered with mats of strong, durable, tule reeds (bulrushes).

What transportation did the Palouse use? Dugout Canoes
The men of the Palouse tribe built dugout canoes made from the hollowed-out logs of large trees. The men hollowed logs with controlled fire that softened the timber so they could carve and shape their canoes to have a flat bottom with straight sides. The dugout canoes were important to the way of life of the Palouse as semi-nomadic fishers and hunters and was a perfect means of transportation for travel along fast streams and shallow waters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Dugout Canoe

What food did the Palouse tribe eat?
The food of the Palouse tribe included salmon and trout and a variety of meats from the animals and birds they hunted. They supplemented their protein diet with seeds, roots, nuts and fruits.

What weapons did the Palouse use?
The weapons used were spears, clubs, knives and bows and arrows. The Cayuse also used shields for defensive purposes.

What clothes did the Palouse wear?
The clothes worn by the men the men and women of the tribe were similar to the clothing of the Nez Perce - please refer to this article for details.

Who were the most famous leaders and chiefs of the Palouse tribe?
The most famous leaders and chiefs of the Palouse tribe included Chief Red Echo (Hahtalekin) and Chief Naked Head (Husishusis Kute).

Palouse History Timeline: What happened to the Palouse tribe?
The following Palouse history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks and battles fought by the Palouse Nation. The Palouse history timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Palouse History Timeline

  • 1750's: The Palouse acquire the horse and their lifestyle changed as they were able to travel to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo. The tribe became horse breeders and the Appaloosa horse was named after them

  • 1805: Contact was made between the Palouse tribe and the Lewis and Clark expedition in October 1805

  • 1812: A trading post known as Spokane House was built near the confluence of Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers

  • 1825: The Hudson’s Bay Company established Fort Vancouver as a trading post

  • 1836: Henry Marcus Whitman founded a Presbyterian mission at Waiilatpu and made contact with the tribe

  • 1843: The first major migration along the Oregon Trail took place in 1843 which led to violent conflicts with the white settlers who traveled in wagon trains along the Oregon trail

  • 1845: The white settlers bring various diseases to the Native Indians who lived in the surrounding areas of the Oregon Trail

  • 1847: Many of the tribe are wiped out by a devastating measles and smallpox epidemics

  • 1847: The Whitman Massacre led to the outbreak of the Cayuse War

  • 1847: The tribe fought with their Native Indian allies in the Cayuse War (1847-1855)

  • 1855: Isaac Stevens (March 25, 1818 – September 1, 1862) , governor of Washington Territory, negotiated the Walla Walla treaty with the Palouse.

  • 1855: They Palouse were recognized in the Treaty with the Yakama but the tribe refused to live on the reservation

  • 1855: The Yakima War (1855-1858) erupted, fought by members of the Native Indian alliance including the Palouse, Cayuse, Walla Walla, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes

  • 1858: Coeur d'Alene War  broke out in the Washington and Idaho areas. Native Indians attacked and defeated a force of 164 US troops under Major Edward Steptoe

  • 1858: Colonel Wright ordered the destruction of 700 Palouse horses at "Horse Slaughter Camp," hanged several Palouse Indians. This concluded the Coeur d'Alene and the Yakima Wars

  • 1859: The treaty was broken, the US gave only half of what was promised

  • 1887: Dawes General Allotment Act passed by Congress leads to the break up of the large Indian Reservations and the sale of Indian lands to white settlers


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the people lived
  • The clothes worn by men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Palouse would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Palouse
  • Names of famous chiefs and leaders
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Palouse Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Palouse Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Palouse nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Palouse tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages.. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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