Nez Perce Creation Story

The Kamiah valley is celebrated for its beautiful scenery. Named from the Kamiah Creek which enters into the Clearwater river in the eastern part of the reserve. Just where the creek enters into the river the valley is about two miles wide – mountain ranges on both sides of the river – not bare steep mountains such as you might imagine, but made up of buttes little hills each rising back off and higher than the other, until the fifth, sixth or Seventh, with its pretty fir trees, makes heaven seem but a step further up. Here and there a Canyon divides the mountain ranges, letting the snow water out in the Spring and each summer to make it annual trip down the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia to the Grand Pacific Ocean.

Now here in this beautiful valley down by the old ferry there is a mound so large it looks like a hill – it is surrounded by level ground. The Nez Perces call it the ‘heart’ and tell the story how it came to be there. After the world was made but not the people yet there lay a monster he was so large as to fill the great valley that mound makes just where the heart of it was. He did not need to search for food for he could draw in animals great and small for a distance of ten or fifteen miles and swallow them alive. Many a council was held (at a distance) to devise some means to destroy this enemy of all beast-kind for the valley was white with the bones of their friends. Only one among them all dared to approach the dreaded monster. This was the Coyote of little wolf for always when he drew near the creature shut his mouth saying "Go away, Go away"

One day after the Coyote had gathered some bits of pitch pine and flint, he stepped up quietly to the monster and hit the shut mouth so that if opened with a jerk. In a moment the little brave was in the great prison house and what a company he found there! Soon with his pitch and flint he kindled a fire, the smoke puffing out of mouth ears, and nose. The little commander ordered all yet alive to make their escape. white bear said he was not able to go but finally did make his exit through the ear-gate. At this time the Coyote was pawing away on the great heart with his flint, listening with delight to the sick groans of the dying monster.

When all was over and the captives at liberty there stood in the silence only the Coyote and his friend the fox. What should be done with this great body. They finally decided to cut it up in pieces and from the pieces people the world. So the Black Feet Indians were made from the feet – the Crows and Flat Heads from the head. The other tribes were made from the other parts and sent off to their own lands. The two friends were left alone. The fox looking up and down the river said Why no people are made for this lovely valley. And nothing left to make them now! True said the Coyote nothing but a few drops of the hearts best blood left on my hands. Bring me some water from the river. This was done, while the Coyote washed his hands he sprinkled the blood and water. And Lo the noble Nez Perce sprang up!

 wpe15.jpg (54092 bytes)