YAKAMA NATION history
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE YAKAMA NATION
Upon central Washington’s plateau and along the Columbia River reside tribal people called the Yakama’s. The Cascade mountains shelter this central portion from marine showers. The rolling foothills and Yakima River are the eastern border.
Due west in majestic glory is Pahto (Mt. Adams), 12,307 feet high. It is one of five Cascade volcanoes that dot the landscape from California to Washington. Her snow melts through canyons, forests, meadows and valleys to provide gifts to our people.
The tribal people comprising the Yakama Nation have lived in this area since the beginning of time. They used the entire land base, from the lowlands around the Columbia River to the snow-peaked Cascade Mountains.
Lands ceded to the federal government during the 1855 Treaty signing included over 12 million acres of land. But tribal elders have said that their distance of travel sometimes took them as far north as Canada and as far south as California.
The reserved portion of the tribal people’s original home land is where the tribes and bands were moved to. Tribal leaders reserved the right to fish, hunt and gather all of the tribe’s traditional foods on the reservation as well as the ceded area. Although the Treaty was signed on June 9, 1855 it did not become valid until ratified March 8, 1859 by the U.S. Senate and proclaimed law by the President on April 18, 1859.
Although the treaty called for a period of two years to allow the various tribes to migrate to and resettle on, their new reservations, Gov. Stevens declared Indian lands open for white settlers a mere twelve days after the treaty was signed (ENAT 253-254). A Yakama chief, Kamiakin called upon the tribes that had been duped to forcefully oppose this declaration, but not before they had built up their strength to oppose the military. Things move too quickly and shortly thereafter a series of raids, counter raids and reciprocal atrocities began. This uprising became known as the Yakama War. The war continued until 1859, when the last phase, known as the Couer d’Alene War ended. The Yakama accepted their reservation and still dwell there today. In addition to the Yakima, some Paiutes and a few members of other tribes reside on the Yakama Reservation.