Nez Perce Sikum Historical Marker

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Lolo ,Southwest Montana

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric SitesLewis and Clark Expedition
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General info

Sikum is the Nez Perce word for horse. The Nez Perce people were introduced to the horse in the 1730s. The word “appaloosa” was created by white settlers. The Nez Perce learned through selective breeding that they could produce a horse uniquely suited to their homeland and the country around you where they frequently traveled.

The Nez Perce National Historic Trail travels down Lolo Canyon and was a critical and frequently used route for the Nez Perce between their homeland and the bison-rich plains to the east. According to Samuel Penny, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee:

“This was our commerce trail. We followed this trail east to hunt buffalo. We came here for camas. We came here in our flight from the oldiers.”

On February 15, 1806, Meriwether Lewis wrote of the Nez Perce horses in his journal:

“Their horses appear to be of an excllent race; they are lofty, elegantly formed, active and durable, in short, many of them look like fine English corsers and would make a figure in any country.”

The rich history of the sikum lives on today with the Nez Perce through their Young Horseman Program. The Nez Perce maintain an active horse breeding program in Lapwai, Idaho. The Nez Perce horse of today is a unique cross between the Akhal-Teke of Turkmenistan and the Appaloosa. Through this program, they maintain their reputation as accomplished equestrians.

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