The Palouse is a landscape of rolling hills with deep, rich soil along the Snake River in western Idaho and eastern Washington. These hills began forming six million years ago as the wind deposited a blanket of fine-grained silt called loess over the entire landscape. Once grassland, most of the region is now devoted to agriculture. The undulating patterns of golden summer wheat and green fields of lentils against the blue plain of the sky can be beautiful and entrancing. French Canadian voyagers gave the Palouse its name, pelouse being French for grassland. The Nez Perce (Nimi’ipuu) were called Pelouse by Anglos, and the horses they bred Palouse horses, later Appaloosas. When the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through, staying for a time with the Nez Perce, Lewis noted in his journal: “Their horses appear to be of an excellent race: they are lofty, elegantly formed, active and durable.” These fine horses were bred on the rich grasses of the Palouse.

Pattiann Rogers