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Native Languages of the Americas:
Nez Perce Legends and Traditional Stories

This is our collection of links to Nez Perce folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our American Indian folklore section by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same legend are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to each other. In particular, though these legends come from the Nez Perce tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Sahaptin and Coeur d'Alene are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Nez Perce legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Nez Perce Mythological Figures

Coyote (Itsaya'ya or Iceyeeye in the Nez Perce language, sometimes also known as Niseew'eynuu): Coyote is the trickster figure of the Nez Perce tribe. As in other Plateau Indian mythology, Nez Perce coyote stories range from light-hearted tales of mischief and buffoonery to more serious legends about the nature of the world.

Nez Perce Indian Folklore

*Coyote Creates Human Beings:
    Nez Perce origin myths.
*Coyote Creates Human Beings * How Coyote Made Different People * Coyote and the Monster of Kamiah:
    Legends about the creation of the Nez Perce and their land.
*The Man Who Married A Bear:
    Nez Perce story about a bear wife.
*Yellow Jacket and Ant:
    Nez Perce legend about Coyote punishing two insects for fighting.
*Bat And Coyote:
    Coyote plays a practical joke on Bat.
*Cry Because He Had No Wife:
    Nez Perce legend about an orphan boy who won a wife.
*The First Moccasins:
    Humorous Nez Perce legend about the origin of moccasins.
*Bear and Raccoon Boy:
    Nez Perce legend about Raccoon Boy's greed.
*Bear Leads A Boy Astray:
    Nex Perce legend about a jealous bear wife.
*Bears and Coyote:
    Nez Perce legend about Coyote attacking Lynx and a family of Bears.
*Chipmunk and Snake:
    Nez Perce legend about the changing of the seasons.
*Coyote And Porcupine:
    Nez Perce legend about Porcupine punishing Coyote for his greed.
*How The Beaver Stole Fire From The Pines:
    Nez Perce legend about the origin of fire.

Recommended Books on Nez Perce Mythology

Coyote Was Going There: Indian Literature of the Oregon Country:
    Excellent anthology of folklore from the Cayuse and other Oregon tribes.
Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest:
    Collection of legends and folktales from the Nez Perce and other northwestern tribes.
Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies:
    Anthology of folklore from the Nez Perce and other Plateau tribes.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Coyote and other Native American tricksters.
    (Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.)

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Additional Resources

 Nez Percé religion
 Nez Perce words
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religion
 Idaho Native Americans
 The Plateau Native Americans
 Penutian languages
 Nez Perce culture
 Native Americans cultures

Back to the Native American god list
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Learn more about the Nez Perce tribe.

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