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photo of Allen SlickpooAllen Slickpoo is a member of the Nez Perce tribe living in Kamiah, Idaho. He is a storyteller, a member of the Tribal Council, and a historian of the Nez Perce people. Their history begins, as do all histories of people, with their creation and an explanation of how they came to be where they live today.

Well, all the animals were in human form at one time. When the great monster began to swallow up people, Coyote became lonely. One of the surviving animals told him how the monster was swallowing up all the people.

Coyote immediately planned how he could be swallowed so he could free all the beings that were within the monster's stomach. So he tied himself with rawhide rope to three mountains--the one on Cottonwood Butte, one on Seven Devils, and one on Pilot Knob. He made five knives. He challenged the monster and allowed himself to be swallowed.

When he first got inside the monster, the first being he ran into was Bear. Coyote said to him, "Who are you? Who should be scared of you if you let the monster swallow you?" Coyote kicked him in the nose and made his nose flat. Thus he created Grizzly Bear.

Coyote went on and there was Snake, all coiled up. Coyote said, "Who are you? Trying to be fierce and you let the monster swallow you?" So Coyote stomped down on his head and made his head flat. He became rattlesnake, with a flat head. Then finally he got inside the stomach. He began to cut on the heart. He kept cutting away with the five knives. As he worked on the arteries and veins, the knives broke one by one. With the last knife, he cut the last part, and the heart dropped. He told all the beings to go quickly out the back exit. They all exited out the back instead of out of the mouth. All the beings got out except for one little guy. As he was almost out, the monster died and the exit closed. His tail was caught. Coyote and all the animals went to help pull him out. They pulled and they pulled and finally got him out. And all the hair came off his tail. To this day that little guy is known as the Muskrat.

Coyote cut up the monster into pieces and threw him in different directions. Where they landed, people grew up. He threw some over toward Montana to the Blackfeet country. "These people will be tall and war-like." He threw some down to southern Idaho. "These people will be war-like, fierce and mean." Some he threw over to the Columbia River. "These people will be small people, but they will be real good fishermen." Then he threw some up to the north in the Coeur d'Alene country and said, "These people will be good gamblers."

After he had done that, Coyote noticed that there was still no one around. One of the animals asked, "Why don't you create people here?" So Coyote went, taking the blood and sprinkling it around the area. "These people will be the Nee Me Poo. They will be intelligent, the real people, the Nez Perces." And the heart of the monster is still in Kamiah.

Andrus | Baker | Hayashida | Hill | Laird | Nelson | Oliver
Simplot | Slickpoo | Sorrels | Trice | Zabala

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