Ant and Yellowjacket Legend

At the heart of every culture are the stories and places that sustain them as a people. For the nimí·pu· (Nez Perce), these stories taught children about the landforms that surround them everyday and help them learn their language, history, and culture. Ant and Yellowjacket is one such place.

 
A basaltic rock outcropping on a hillside on a sunny day.
According to Nez Perce legend, Coyote turned Ant and Yellowjacket into the stone arch you see here just as they arched their backs and locked jaws during a fight.

NPS photo

 

The ants and the yellowjackets were friendly and shared resources, but had occasional arguments. One day, the leader of the yellowjackets was sitting on a rock eating a salmon when the leader of the ants walked by. The Ant became jealous and said that he wanted the rock and that the Yellowjacket should have asked for permission before sitting there. They then started fighting very loudly, which attracted the attention of Coyote (known as Iceye'ye to the nimí·pu·).

Iceye'ye asked them to stop fighting but they ignored him and continued fighting even more loudly. Iceye'ye then turned them to stone right where they stood.

Last updated: February 23, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715

Phone:

(208) 843-7009

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