(speaks in Nez Perce)
Good day, everybody. (ta’c halaxp) ‘iin wen’ikise Angel Sobotta. (‘iinim titooqan wen’iikt wees, ta-lalt-lilpt – Sunset. My name’s Angel Sobotta and my Indian name is Ta-lalt-lilpt – Sunset. (‘iin wees) Nimiipuu. I am Nimiipuu, the Nez Perce. Nimiipuu is our name that we call ourselves, and it means ‘the people.’
I come from a line of historians and storytellers. I’m going to share with you my ancestry. My ancestors from my mother’s side come from the White Bird, Salmon River, and Seven Devil’s country in Idaho and Oregon. That side we have Chief Pah Wyanan, who was a prophet. He was a medicine man and his son was (xaxaac ‘ilp’ilp’) Grizzly Bear, who was a renowned warrior and prophet. He was known as the chiefs’ chief during the time when Lewis and Clark came here in 1805.
His son was (tipyelehneh cimuuxcimux) Black Eagle. Black Eagle was one of the four Nimiipuu warriors who went over to St. Louis in search of the Good Book, which the Good Book was the Bible or the Book of Knowledge, which is also technology. Black Eagle’s son was Wottolen. Wottolen is ‘Hair combed up over the eyes’. He was a warrior and a prophet in 1877 Nez Perce War.
Wottolen’s son was Sam Lot, Many Wounds. ‘ilexni ‘eewteesin’ means ‘Many Wounds’. Many Wounds, Sam Lott, was a noted Nez Perce historian who helped the author and helped interpret the books for L.V. McWhorter and Yellow Wolf. The books were ‘Hear Me My Chiefs’, and ‘Yellow Wolf’s Own Story’.
Sam Lott’s daughter was We-tse-sa, Rena Katherine Ramsey. ‘We-tse-sa’ means ‘born and reborn’. We-tse-sa, my grandmother, my qaaca’ , meaning my grandmother from my mother, mother’s side was a Whip woman and a cornhusk weaver, and a storyteller. Her daughter is Rosa Mae Spencer Yearout, We-tse-sa , who, my mom took on that name—Born and Reborn. She also carries the whip now that my grandmother used to carry. Now my Qaaca’ is passed on and gone up to hanyaw’aat, the Creator.
From my father’s side, my father, Larry Laverne McFarland, Sr., that we come from the Wallowa band area. That side he has Tu-eka-kas, Old Chief Joseph. Old Chief Joseph’s daughter, Sarah and her brothers were Aliquot and Joseph, and through Sarah married into the Black Eagle family. And the Black Eagles Rebecca Black Eagle married Francis McFarland, and Francis McFarland’s father’s Phillip McFarland, who was buried next to Old Chief Joseph at Wallowa Lake.
Francis McFarland and Rebecca Black Eagle had John McFarland. John McFarland married, also known as Jack McFarland, married my ‘eele’, Louise High Eagle Matthews, and they together had my father Larry Laverne McFarland, Sr.
Also from the White Bird, or from the Wallowa area, we also are related to Chief Lawyer and Twisted Hair on that side. So many of these people on both sides play instrumental roles when Lewis and Clark were here in 1805, and also during the signing of the treaties, and also during the Nez Perce War of 1877.
When Sam Lott was working with L. V. McWhorter, he worked with him for about twenty to thirty years and he considered the projects that they worked on as their own. One of the goals that Sam Lott, and many Nimiipuu had, was to tell our Nez Perce story so that if you heard our story you would know our hearts. When I speak I always give this analogy. If I were to take out my heart and pass it around to you, you would see my Nimiipuu heart and you would see that there’s good in it. So for us, for Sam Lot to be able to tell our story, they were hoping to get people that would support them—our Nimiipuu people—in their cause. Their cause was to get out the story to let people know the things that happened to them in the past, and how possibly we might be able to get different land back like Wallowa areas, if we gained enough political support.
That was one way to try to gain support and just to let people really know who we are. We are a friendly people who want peace. With what my great grandfather Sam Lott set out to do, as his granddaughter, his great granddaughter, it is my hope to continue on with his message to letting people know who we are as Nimiipuu people. In my message I like to try to continue where our ancestors started out with peace and want to be able to continue that today.
Angel Sobotta, Ta-lalt-lilpt Sunset is a member of the Nez Perce Nation, the Nimiipuu people. She comes from a line of historians and storytellers. Ancestors from her mother’s side come from the White Bird, Salmon River, and Seven Devil’s country in Idaho and Oregon. From White Bird of the Wallowa area they’re also related to Chief Lawyer and Twisted Hair. They included Chief Pah Wyanan who was a prophet and medicine man. His son, Chief Red Grizzly Bear, was a renowned warrior and prophet. Red Grizzly Bear’s son, Black Eagle, was one of four Nimiipuu warriors who went to St. Louis in search of the Good Book. Black Eagle’s son, Wottolen – Hair Combed Up Over the Eyes, was also a warrior and prophet in the 1877 Nez Perce War. Wottolen’s son, Sam Lott– Many Wounds, was a noted Nez Perce historian who helped interpret the books, ‘Hear Me My Chiefs’ and ‘Yellow Wolf’s Own Story’, for author L.V. McWhorter and Yellow Wolf. Sam Lott’s daughter, We-tse-sa – Rena Katherine Ramsey, is Angel’s grandmother. She was a whip woman, cornhusk weaver and storyteller. We-tse-sa’s daughter, Rosa Mae Spencer Yearout, is Angel’s mother who now carries the whip of her mother as well as her name We-tse-sa. The Wallowa band is on her father’s side, from Wallamutkin and his son was Old Chief Joseph. His daughter and sons were Sarah, Ollokut and Chief Joseph. Sarah married into the Black Eagle family. Rebecca Black Eagle married Francis McFarland. They had a son, John or known also as Jack, who married ‘eele’, (paternal grandma) Louise High Eagle Matthews, and had Angel’s father, Larry Laverne McFarland, Sr.
The aboriginal homeland covered about thirteen million acres, which was in Idaho, Montana, down into Oregon and Washington. There were vast high mountain, deserts and valleys. With the treaties of 1855 and the discovery of gold that land base shrunk dramatically. Today the Nez Perce Reservation is located in north central Idaho and it covers about ninety thousand square acres.
As a storyteller Angel shares her Nez Perce family history. Depending on the audience, her venue may be the creation story – Heart of the Monster, Nez Perces legend stories, or stories of when Lewis and Clark came here in 1805. Nez Perce children get to act out the stories and learn some Nez Perce language with it hopefully so they will retain the information better.
The Coyote and Monster is an example of a creation story that Angel tells. Before there were Netiitelwit, human beings, there were animal people, like ‘iceyeeye, Coyote. Fox went to seek Coyote for help. He told Coyote that all the animal people were swallowed by ‘ilcweewcix, Monster. Trickster Coyote had a plan. He had Monster inhale him so that he could cut out Monster’s heart from inside. Before the monster died all of the animal people ran out of his body. Coyote then threw pieces of the monster in all directions and where they landed the Titooqan, human beings, were created. Coyote then sprinkled blood from the heart of the monster onto this weetes, the land–the most beautiful place of all—and created the Nimiipuu, the people. The Nimiipuu were to be small but brave and powerful in war, skilled hunters and fishermen. They were to have good hearts, a friendly people.
Angel discusses tribal cultural artifacts such as the ones in the Nez Perce National Historical Park and Big Hole Battlefield museums. They have drawers full of different artifacts including a pipe of Chief Josephs and some beautifully designed cornhusk bags. She also shows and demonstrates the cornhusk weaving. Traditionally the Nez Perces’ woven bags were of hemp and bear grass and were used when picking berries and digging roots. The bags were very large.
Angel is the chairperson of the Nez Perce Arts Council and has written many scripts for them. Some of the scripts are Nez Perce legends combined with the Nez Perce language because she also works for the Nez Perce Language Program. She’s a member of the Nez Perce Appaloosa Horse Club and the M Y Sweetwater Appaloosa Horse Ranch. She was a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Foxwoods Dance Troupe and got to travel around the world. Angel received a grant from the Idaho Commiossion of the Arts to write a play “Bright and Beautiful ‘oykaloo ” She wrote a script entitled ‘ipsqilaanx heewtnin’ weetespe which is ‘Walking on Sacred Ground’ and that’s for the Nez Perce Lolo Trail video which recently won a gold award at the Aurora Television/Video Awards Contest in Salt Lake City, Utah.. One of her biggest projects was for TNT’s Lakota Woman. She played Barbara, sister to Lakota Woman, who was played by Irene Bedard.
PO Box 102
Lapwai, ID 83540