yéey’e (Bear grass)

Cultural Narrative: 

yéey’e (Bear grass or Xerophyllum tenax) is a type of plant belonging to the corn lily family that primarily grows in the western U.S. and Canada. Among many Native American peoples, including Nimíipuu (Nez Perce), yéey’e (bear grass) was woven into items, such as baskets, bags, and hats, or the root was cooked for food or medicinal purposes. Before being used as a woven material, the yéey’e (bear grass) was washed and bleached.

Records suggests that L.V. McWhorter picked up this bunch of yéey’e (bear grass) on the historic Lolo Trail in the ?itáan (Bitteroot) Mountain Range, located on the border of Idaho and Montana. The historic Lolo Trail was regularly used by Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) for travel as early as the eighteenth century. Due to the time period L.V. McWhorter lived in the state of Washington, it is likely L.V. McWhorter found this bunch of yéey’e (bear grass) in the early twentieth century, but it is unknown when it was originally left, dropped, or discarded.