Heart of the Monster
This landmark is a central figure in the Nez Perce origin story.
This mound rises above the Idaho earth. But it isn’t your ordinary geological feature—it’s central to the origin story of the Nez Perce, or Nimiipuu, Native American people.
Originally, the Nimiipuu people occupied an area that included parts of present-day Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. They fished, hunted, and traded throughout this region, as well as parts of what are now Montana and Wyoming.
Iceye-ye (Coyote) appears in many stories of the the Nimiipuu, including their creation story. In this story, Iceye-ye confronts a great monster who was eating all of the people and the animals. He tricks the monster into swallowing him, and once inside, uses a stone knife to cut it open and free all the people and animals trapped within. Parts of the monster were then distributed all across the land, thus creating the many peoples of the land. Different parts of the monster are visible today across the landscape.
When visiting the Heart of the Monster, now one of the 38 sites within the Nez Perce National Historical Park, you’ll have the opportunity to see the landmark lodged within the beautiful Clearwater River valley, near the town of Kamiah. There, you can hear the origin story spoken via audio machines. Other sites involving Iceye-ye include the Coyote’s Fishnet, which also involves a natural landscape altered by the mythological figure.
Know Before You Go
The site is managed by the Nez Perce National Historical Park. Entry is free and interpretive history is provided.
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