piyopyóot’alikt' (Chief Peo Peo Tholekt's) sepuunme’s (flute)

Cultural Narrative: 

This sepuunme’s (flute) was created by and belonged to Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) chief piyopyóot’alikt (Peo Peo Tholekt). It is believed this sepuunme’s (flute) was created after the conclusion of the Nez Perce War in 1877. The sepuunme’s (flute) is 68 cm in length and was constructed from an entire piece of mít'ip (elderberry) wood. It is painted red on the upper section and a black or darkish green/blue color on the lower section. There is a buckskin string running along the length of the sepuunme’s (flute) from which various materials are attached. These materials include strands of human hair, a tail feather from an immature or spotted/black eagle attached to a buckskin appendage, pouches created from eagle quills, a small whistle made from eagle bone, conch shells, and beads of various colors, including brass, white, and blue. The traditional importance of these sepuunme’s (flutes) is that they were used by young Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) men as part of courting Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) women. Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) would play their sepuunme’s (flutes) for women they liked. Since this was piyopyóot’alikt' (Peo Peo Tholekt's) sepuunme’s (flute), he would have used it in his own personal courtship.

Image 1: This photo provides an overview of the sepuunme’s (flute), including the different materials hanging from the buckskin string, such as the human hair, eagle feathers, beads, conch shells, eagle bone whistle, and eagle quill pouches.
Image 2: This photo highlights the human hair and feather detail on the sepuunme’s (flute). These feathers are possibly dyed red. Additionally, one can see the upper section of the sepuunme’s (flute) that is painted red.
Image 3: This photo showcases the eagle feather attached to the buckskin appendage and the attached eagle quill pouch. At the top of the photo, one can see some of the human hair strands and different colored beads.
Image 4: In the middle of this photo, one can see the eagle bone whistle that is attached to the buckskin string along the length of the sepuunme’s (flute). There are blue, white, and brass beads to the right of the eagle bone whistle and additional strands of human hair to the left and right of the eagle bone whistle.
Image 5: This photo displays the opposing side of the sepuunme’s (flute) and shows the tone holes used to play the sepuunme’s (flute).