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Several different alphabets have represented Nimipuutimt. The Advisory Board of Elders decided to use the writing system shown here.

Nimipuutimt never uses capitals, not at the beginning of any sentence or for any words except English personal names. The Nimipuutimt has several sounds that aren’t used in English. Try practicing with the lessons below to say the words correctly.


Nimipuutimt has five vowels that can be short or long: a, e, i, o, u or aa, ee, ii, oo, uu.

Whether vowels are short or long, each vowel stands for essentially the same sound, but the sound is more drawn out for the long vowels.


Each word has one vowel that has the most emphasis. Vowels with stress are pronounced a little stronger and higher than other vowels.

It is important to say words with the stress on the right vowel or the word will sound wrong. For example, try saying potato and tomato with the stress on the first or last vowel. See how funny it sounds? Now, consider the two English words cónvict and convíct. The first one is a noun and the second one is a verb. The only difference between these two words is which vowel has the stress.

We indicate which vowel is emphasized by putting a stress mark over it: á, é, í, ó, ú. For the long vowels, we only put the mark over the first part of the vowel: áa, ée, íi, óo, úu. Normally, we don’t need a stress mark for a word with only one vowel because we know that vowel is emphasized.



To make this sound, open your mouth wide (like when the doctor looks at your throat).

When you say aa, it will be about twice as long as a. The short a sounds like the first two letters in the English word automatic. The long aa sounds like the vowel sounds in hall and lost.


Nimipuutímt word Meaning
Háham Men
Lamáta Whitebird, Idaho
pátan Bushes, brush
háama Man
páaps Red fir
táamsas Wild rose


This vowel is much like the o vowel in English. However, while the English vowel ō “glides” into a w at the end, the proper Nimipuutimt pronunciation keeps the sound pure.

When you pronounce this vowel, make your lips round. The first vowel sound in potato and the last in Arapaho sound like short o. The oo has the vowel sound heard in tone and load.


Nimipuutímt word Meaning
koná There
póhol Ravine, side canyon
tóhon Pants, underwear
hóopop Edible pine moss
sooyáapoo Non-Indian


This vowel sound is also round like o, but it is made with the tongue a little higher and the mouth a little tighter. The English words put and look have the short u sound, and the word through has the long uu sound.

Like the o, the Nimipuutímt u is pure. It does not include a w sound at the end, as the English sound does.


Nimipuutímt word Meaning
Húhuy Shoulder
Sílu Eye
Núusnu Nose
Húusus Head
Kuus Water


This vowel sound is made with the tongue high and close to your teeth and the mouth tight.

Short i can differ a little depending on the word, sounding either like the vowel in tick or the last vowel in crazy. The ii sound is like that in piece and see. When we pronounce long i in English, we have a y sound at the end of it. In Nimipuutimt, the long i should be kept pure.


Nimipuutímt word Meaning
Sis Bellybutton
Tit Tooth
Siis Gravy, stew
Piips Bones
Kii This


This sound is made with the mouth well open like a, but with the tongue farther forward. This sound is very common in English, although it is usually spelled with the letter a (as in cat).

Like the other short vowels, e can sound a little different depending on the word. With practice, these differences will become natural. The short e sound can sound like the vowel in canon, central, set, and laugh. The long ee pronunciation does not vary as much. It sounds like the vowels in lamb and whack.


Nimipuutímt word Meaning
Héhen Vine
Tílel Bluff, hill
Síwe Forehead
Wéeptes Golden eagle
Keléemet Pipe
Héesu Eel
Wéetes Earth, Land

Words and Phrases


Nimipuutímt English Translation
wix̣sil’íix Sit down
wix̣sil’íikitx You all sit down
wiséekey’x Stand up
wiséekey’kitx You all stand up
mic’yóox̣om Listen to me
mic’yóox̣omtx You all listen to me
‘amc’yóox̣oy miyóox̣atna Listen to the leader
‘amc’yóox̣otx miyóox̣atna You all listen to the leader
‘amc’yóox̣oy ‘im’íisep Listen to your mother
‘amc’yóox̣otx ‘im’tóotap You all listen to your father
‘imóotalx Be still!
‘imamóotalkitx Be still! (pl.)



Adding ne/na to the end of a word referring to an animal or an object means you see it.

Nimipuutímt English Translation
’e’ewíi Shooting
tim’úuni Bow (and now, gun)
céep Arrow (and now, bullet)
’ímes,’ime”esne Deer
qoq’áalx̣, qoq’áalx!na Buffalo
múuh, múuhne Cow
waswásno, waswasnóona Chicken
sáaslaqs, sáaslaqsna Moose
’itúune ’eekíce? What do you see?
’íin ’eekíce múuhne I see a cow
’íin ’eekíce poxpok’láana I see a ball
’imím ‘ee wees ‘oyláaqc céep You have six bullets
’e’wíi! Shoot it!
’e’wíi ‘iméesne! Shoot the deer!
’e’wíis You have shot it
’úupteyn You have missed


Nimipuutímt English Translation
yoosyóos Blue
cíicyele Purple
’ilp’ílp Red
maqsmáqs Yellow
mímqas Orange
x̣éx̣us Green
cimúuxcimux Black
x̣ayx̣ạyx! White

Nez Perce Culture

Nimipuutímt English Translation
táyam The time of hot, humid weather/time of food preparation
waw’ama’ayq’áal Nacó’x̣ reach the upper tributary streams to spawn
timíipn’it’es núunim ‘anoqonmáana Remembering our ancestors


Thunder traveling to higher areas


’elelímyeté’qenin’/ háatyata’qanin’ Wrapped in the wind
Cúuɫim maqsmáqs Yellow Bull
piyóopiyo x̣ayx̣áyx̣ Whitebird
lamtáama White Bird Band – ‘area with little snow’
piyopyóot’alikt Bird Alighting
himíin maqsmáqs Yellow Wolf