The people are one of the Sahaptin speaking groups of Native Americans living on the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and North Central Idaho.
The people of the region lived in three main groups, the Upper, Middle, and Lower bands. Traditional lands included areas around waterways such as the Columbia, Snake and Palouse Rivers.
The ancestral people were nomadic, following food sources through the seasons. The Palus people gathered with other native peoples for activities such as food-gathering, hunting, fishing, feasting, trading, and celebrations that included dancing, sports and gambling. They lived near other groups including the Nez Perce, Wanapum, Walla Walla, and Yakama peoples.
In October 1805, Lewis and Clark met with the tribe, although most were away from the area for fall food-gathering and hunting. Lewis and Clark presented one of the expedition's silver peace medals to Chief Kepowhan. The Diaries of the Corps of Discovery describe the people as a separate and distinct group from the Nez Perce.
The people were expert horsemen and the term Appaloosa is probably a derivation of the term Palouse horse. Hundreds of tribal horses were slaughtered to cripple the tribe during the Indian Wars in the latter half of the nineteenth century.*