By Paty Jager
Here is some insight into Nez Perce family life in the 17 and 1800's I learned while researching for my Nez Perce Spirit trilogy.
The children of Nez Perce families were taught by their grandparents. The grandfathers taught the boys how to make weapons, hunt, fish, track, and fight. Grandmothers taught the girls how to take care of their families, do the chores, and help their men. The elders passed down the stories of the trickster coyote and how "The People" came to be. By reading books of their legends you see how the legends taught the children basic truths about life and how to conduct themselves to be good Nez Perce.
Grandmothers also taught the girls about the coming of age and were by their sides during marriages and the births. When a girl began her menstrual cycle she would stay in the menstrual lodge for the duration of her bleeding. They believed the women carried strong powers during this time and were susceptible to getting pregnant.
This isolation served a purpose. They held private discussions about personal problems and conditions of health, exchanged views on herbal medicine, and composed songs. They cooked their own meals in the lodge and did not touch anything outside nor could they attend any ceremonies during this time.
They used buffalo hides with the fur still on for menstruation pads or buckskin and milkweed. The pads were put in a hole in the middle of the dwelling and buried.
After puberty girls were no longer allowed to play with boys and stayed in a lodge with their grandmothers and aunts who taught them the ways of women.
To help make the premise work for my heroine in Spirit of the Mountain, she is the daughter of the chief and is allowed to live with her parents even after she is of age to be in the women’s lodge.
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.
She tasted of sweet honey straight from the bosom of a bee tree.
One taste was not enough. He pulled her closer, moving his lips across hers, tasting and savoring the feel of them.
Her mouth opened and she sighed.
His body came to life. The sensations transcended anything he’d experienced before. How could one woman make him feel powerful and vulnerable at the same time? Why did he wish to crush her to him and never let go and yet feel compelled to treat her with the tenderness
one would give the tiniest of creatures? He couldn’t continue this way.
To hold her, to touch her soft skin. He would never be able to let her go.
He released Wren and stepped back, avoiding her eyes. How could he show her the sensations she brought to him then turn around and tell her they couldn’t see one another anymore?