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?
In the museum collection of Nez Perce National Historical Park is a magnificent buffalo hide tipi made of eighteen separate hides. This tipi is one of only a few that are know to survive from the mid-nineteenth century. It was donated by the Lawyer family.