• Nez Perce National Historical Park. Front Page banner photograph is of Heart of the Monster, an ancient place where the Nez Perce creation story originates. The secondary page photograph is of Nez Perce beadwork.

    Nez Perce

    National Historical Park ID,MT,OR,WA


canine track in mud

This canine track was found at the park's Spalding site.

NPS Photo

Before the coming of the Latetelwit (human beings), the world according to the Nez Perce people was inhabited by animals that were endowed with the qualities and behaviors of humans. In this ancient past, the principal character was Niseweynu, Coyote, a trickster and transformer.

Coyote stories and legends convey teachings and practical information about familiar things such as notable landmarks found around their villages, the storms and winds of the mountains, the rattlesnakes among the basalt rocks in the canyons, the flowing streams and the salmon that come in the spring and summer, the insects, birds, animals, and trees.

Meadow mole

Moles, like this one spotted in Hell's Canyon, can be found across Nez Perce country.

NPS Photo

The wildlife found in and around the sites of Nez Perce National Historical Park connects the Coyote stories of the past, with the present. Amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates abound at all sites. From the peregrine falcon to the ant, species diversity is of critical importance.

Also of importance are state listed threatened, endangered, and sensitive species. Gray wolf and bald eagle may be periodically seen in the park, but are not residents. Other sensitive species that may be found in the park include Montana arctic grayling, mountain plover, swift fox, great gray owl, boreal owl, and certain species of fish.


English Name

Nez Perce Name

mule deer






gray wolf


bald eagle


swift fox






ground squirrel


deer mouse


Did You Know?

Nez Perce male fishing from a canoe. NPS Photo NEPE-HI-783

The Nez Perce often travelled great distances to fish with family and friends. They fished as far away as present day Willamette Falls, near Oregon City as well as Celilo and Kettle Falls to the north.