Heart of the Monster, Kamiah

Photo © Idaho Tourism

At the core of countless cultures lies the creation myth, seeking to answer the fundamental question of how this world came to be. Nez Perce National Historical Park serves as a testament to the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) tribe’s own creation myth.

One of 38 sites in the Nez Perce National Historical Park, Heart of the Monster is located a few miles from Kamiah, Idaho (about 1.5 hours from Lewiston). Named after a large earthen mound in the park, the site ties into the tribe’s creation myth involving the Coyote, a heroic character and a protagonist in many tales.

In this story, an enormous monster had inhaled all creatures, leaving Coyote alone. After hiding five stone knives in his pouch, Coyote tricked the monster into consuming him. From inside the beast’s belly, he started a fire, cut the monster’s heart out and carved the corpse into fragments and spread them across the land. These fragements became the many tribes of people, including the Nez Perce. Legend tells that the heart remains at this site; audio stations tell the story in English and Nez Perce languages.

You can tour this and other landmarks of Nimiipuu culture at Nez Perce National Historical Park, nps.gov/nepe. To plan a visit to North Central Idaho, go to visitnorthcentralidaho.org.