• 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

Geologic Formations

The Nimiipuu have occupied the Plateau area of the Northwest for at least 11,000 years. According Nimiipuu tradition, the world before humans was inhabited by animals who possessed human traits. The main animal was Coyote, who at times had superhuman powers. When a monster began to consume the animals, Coyote tricked the monster into swallowing him. While in the monster's stomach, Coyote killed the monster and set the animals free. He then carved the monster into pieces and scattered the parts throughout the land, where they became the various Native American tribes. He sprinkled the monster's blood in the Plateau area. From the blood came the Nimiipuu, or Nez Perce people.

From their beginning, the Nez Perce have utilized various geologic formations in their cultural heritage. Many of the park sites are geologic formations that represent ties between the Nimiipuu and the earth.

Did You Know?

The great Nez Perce rodeo rider Jackson Sundown on his horse, circa 1920. NPS photo NEPE-HI-1922

Horses came into Nez Perce country about the 1730s and the Nez Perce became well known for their large herds of fine horses. The Nez Perce practiced selective breeding to obtain the traits of intelligence, endurance, and speed.