Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type



Sociology & Anthropology


The Nez Perce Indians face a difficult task ensuring their cultural and religious ties to the environment in a world constantly in search of natural resources. The problems faced by the Nez Perce are not uncommon and occur on many Montana tribal lands as well. This thesis focuses on providing a complete picture of the Nez Perce Nation and its relationship to its environment with regards to the cultural, religious, and financial viability of the tribe. Incorporating many different secondary sources and the use of two sociological theories, phenomenology and rationalization, this thesis helps answer the question of how the Nez Perce do it. On an individual level, the tribal members may display or harbor different ideas about their environment compared to that of the tribe. However, the tribe maintains a strong sense of cultural and religious attitudes towards their environment while also seeking financial benefits from its natural resources. While the case of each tribe is different, the Nez Perce provide an example of maintaining traditional beliefs in regards to natural resource consumption.