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 September of 1805 Lewis and Clark crossed into Nez Perce country. A debate ensued among the Nez Perce. Should they assist these strangers or attack them? A female Nez Perce elder, Wetxuuwíis (Wet-k'hoo-wees)urged her people to do them no harm. Her words were heeded; the expedition was welcomed.