Kamiakin was an influential chief of the Yakama Tribe, a reluctant signer of the 1855 Walla Walla Treaty creating the Yakama Reservation, and one of the key war leaders during the Northwest’s Indian Wars of 1855-1858.
The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation include Klikitat, Palus, Wallawalla, Wanapam, Wenatchi, Wishram, and Yakama peoples. Until the mid 1990s they were called the Yakima Nation (pronounced yak-im-maw), but the Yakama (pronounced yah-kam-ah) tribe prefers the spelling with an a, which is pronounced more closely to the proper pronunciation. No one is entirely sure where this name came from. It may have been an English corruption of the Yakama word for “pregnant women,” “family,” or “runaway.” Their own name for themselves was Waptailmim, which means “people of the narrow river.”
Famous Yakama Chiefs and Leaders
Colestah – She was one of the five wives of Chief Kamiakin (1800–1877) of the Yakama Native American tribe. She is described as being a medicine woman, a psychic, and a warrior. In 1858 she accompanied Kamiakin to the Battle of Four Lakes (or Battle of Spokane Plain), armed with a stone war club, vowing to fight by his side. When Kamiakin was wounded, Colestah carried him off and used her skills in traditional tribal medicine to nurse him back to health.
Bunky Echo–Hawk (born 1975) is a Native American artist and poet who is known for his acrylic paintings about Native American topics and hip-hop culture.
Chief Kamiakin – One of the key war leaders during the Northwest’s Indian Wars of 1855-1858. He met the Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1805.
Lavina Washines (April 1, 1940 – June 2, 2011) was the first female leader of the Yakama Nation. She was first elected to the Yakama Nation Tribal Council in 1985. In 2006, she became chair of the tribal council, serving until 2008.
William Yallup, Sr. (born September 1926, Ellensburg, Washington) – (died June 17, 2006, Toppenish, Washington) was a longtime leader of the Yakama Nation. He began serving in tribal government in 1960 and was elected as a Tribal Councilman in 1972. During his tenure, he served as the Chief Judge of the Yakama Tribal Court and on nearly every Tribal Council committee, and was well known for his commitment to preserving tribal resources and the Yakamas’ traditional rights reserved in their 1855 treaty.
Tah pa shah ( interpreted as Sharp Shooter) – He was Chief of the Klickitats and appointed at the original Yakama Agency in White Swan, Washington as the first chief of the Yakama Nation. He was chief from 1856-1861.
Chief Kanaskat – One of the key war leaders during the Northwest’s Indian Wars of 1855-1858. Chief Kamiakin and Chief Leschi of the Nisqually tribe were the other principal chiefs during the Coeur d’Alene and Yakima Wars.
Chief Qualchan – Was hanged during the Coeur d’Alene War at Horse Slaughter Camp, so called because Colonel Wright ordered over 700 Palouse horses slaughtered there in retaliation for the war. This was the last resistance of the Yakima Nation.
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation