"We have to be the voice and the warriors for the next seven generations; our fish, water, land…our many endangered natural resources need protection. Our people need to be educated and we need to unite."
Nimiipuu is the English translation for “the people” which is one amongst many names the Nez Perce call ourselves. And- protecting the environment of our traditional lands was the common committment that brought us together.
We began organizing a number of years ago as a volunteer group concerned about protecting our traditional rights and lands. Then, after the Exxon Mobil Megaloads protests by our tribal members in 2013, we began to meet on a regular basis.
By networking with some First Nations friends near the Tar Sands, we had the opportunity to meet and receive financial support from the Seventh Generation Fund. With their seed funding, we began working on ways to educate and inform our tribal membership about the Tar Sands and other areas at risk. We began meeting, organizing activities and events on the reservation, and offering public interest group activities at area colleges/universities.
Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment is committed to protect Tribal Treaty rights within our original ceded area and usual and accustomed places.
We exist to carry on time-honored sustainable environmental practices in the tradition of the Nimiipuu by facilitating and organizing tribal youth and adults in activities for the protection, enhancement, and promotion of mother earth and the Nimiipuu culture.
Our vision is that the Nimiipuu and community members live, work, play, and pray, in an environment which sustains such activities and leaves as light a foot-print for the protection of the environment and future generations.
To protect our Treaty areas and
To educate the tribal members and youth on current environmental issues.
To develop leaders in the environmental area for the next generation.
To promote activism within our tribes and To empower tribal members on effecting change.
Our Current Board members and Staff
Board Member and Coordinator
Julian Matthews Enrolled Nez Perce has been actively involved in Environmental issues for the last 20 years primarily in response to threats made on or near the Treaty of 1855 and usual and accustomed areas. These areas are guaranteed to the Nimiipuu with the signing of the 1855 Treaty and in many instances, the federal, state or local governments or private interests interpret these rights quite differently than do the Nez Perce people.
Julian is committed to ensuring that the Treaty Rights to hunt, fish and gather are kept and protected for those who come after us as the Treaty of 1855 signers protected these rights for us to this day. His main goal is to ensure that Tribal youth and adults are educated and have good knowledge of issues affecting our people and also making sure that we (the Nimiipuu) take an active role in protecting our Treaty rights.
Et peh lat keh
Son of Walter L. & Bernice Moffett, along with six siblings; grandparents: Sarah & Harry Moffett, Julia & William Allen, Delia & Joseph Williams; graduate of Kamiah High School, Nez Perce Indian Reservation (NPIR); Joel Tum yep tse yo & Meredith Ee tah la, son & daughter of Elliott and Reine; Vonda and Elliott’s son is Von Walter Moffett, Taqasa ‘yo xot ‘ipelikt.
Elliotts is the former Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee member/officer, and served as natural resources subcommittee chairman, executive board of directors, chairman Nez Perce Tribe Forest Products Enterprises, inter-Tribal Timber Consortium, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commissioner (CRITFC). Elliott has worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs serving in federal trust positions, as NEPA and an environmental coordinator. His education includes a political science degree from the University of Washington and certification as a federal program technician paralegal from the American Indian Law Center. Currently, Elliott is an employee of the Nez Perce Tribe Gaming Commission appointed as Director.
University of Idaho, B.A. Political Sciences
Morgan Chaffee is a recent graduate from the University of Idaho who joined our team in April of 2020. Morgan grew up on the Olympic Peninsula in Port Townsend, Washington. There, she learned of the Southern Resident Orca whale population, and their correlation with the pacific salmon fisheries.
As a student at the University of Idaho, Morgan grew more interested in environmental politics and policy, especially the ongoing salmon extinction crises especially in relation to the southern resident orca whale population.
As a senior, Morgan would be selected to represent the state of Idaho at the National United States Scholarship Pageant, promoting salmon conservation, orca whale recovery, and environmental protection as her personal community service platform.
As a recent graduate, Morgan volunteers with regional and national political campaigns, and hopes to obtain her Idaho teaching certificate in hopes of teaching children about the importance of nature and all that we can learn from it.
Lucinda was raised on the Nez Perce Colville Reservation. Her mother, Edith William George was a full-blooded descendent of Chief Joseph Wallowa band of Nez Perce. Although Lucinda is retired today from an influential career in law enforcement, she has been an active and respected community member continually working to make her community stronger. Dr. Carolyn James documented her story in “Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990.”
Lucinda worked for Indian Education in the Lewiston School as the first pre-school teacher for native students. She worked as a police officer and earned the rank of Sergeant while working for the Wenatchee, WA Police Department. She then returned to school and finished her bachelors’ degree in Criminal Justice before going back into law enforcement in the city of Orofino on the Nez Perce Reservation. Lucinda worked as a therapist for the Mounted Scholars Program, and continued her work in law enforcement. She helped the tribe transition for the first time from Bureau of Indian Affairs police jurisdiction to a tribal police force.
Becky Witinok-Huber, PhD
Rebecca Witinok-Huber (Becky), grew up on a farm in rural Iowa, where she was raised to respect and honor the natural world, and developed a deep sense of adventure, and a fighting spirit. As the daughter of a hydrogeologist, she saw her mother dedicate her life to bringing the processes and stories of the natural world into the classroom to her students. Her father, an Iowa native, grew up farming the land, and carries a deep reverence and understanding of the connection between humans, natural resources and animals.
Becky, has always loved the outdoors, and studied Wildlife Biology at the University of Vermont, before finding the West was calling to her spirit. She first moved to Colorado as a professional triathlete in 2008, and competed for six years around the world. Despite falling just short of her goal to qualify for the Olympics, the challenges and obstacles she faced and overcame as an athlete, still serve her well. From 2013-2015 Becky studied Social-ecological systems at Colorado State University, where she becoming fascinated with community based water management, and women's rights. She lived in rural Kenya for six months, working with women and listening to their stories about the barriers and opportunities to be involved in water management and health. This includes human health and well being, water rights and ecosystem functions, the ability of communities to adaptively manage their resources and live in communion, and the vital ecological knowledge of those who have lived as part of and worked with the land and water for generations.
Becky comes to us as a partner, advocate, and supporter of people and water. She has just begun her PhD in Water Resources at the University of Idaho, and would like to see more integration of ecological knowledge and science when natural resource policies are formulated so that management is holistic, adaptive, sustainable, and meaningful to people on the ground.