The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation includes these bands: Kah-miltpah, Klickitat, Klinquit, Kow-was-say-ee, Li-ay-was, Oche-Cotes, Palouse, Pesquose, See-ap-Cat, Sk’in-pah, Shyiks, Wisham, Wenachapam, and Yakama.
The Yakamas have lived in Central and South Central Washington since time immemorial. The lands of the Yakama extended in all directions along the Cascade Mountain Range to the Columbia River and beyond. Tribal elders say their distance of travel sometimes took them as far north as Canada and as far south as California.
Official Tribal Name: Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
Address: 401 Fort Road, PO BOX 151, Toppenish, WA 98948
Phone: (509) 865-5121
Email: Contact Form
Official Website: http://www.yakamanation-nsn.gov
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Toppenish
Common Name: Yakama Tribe (formerly Yakima Tribe)
Meaning of Common Name:
Alternate names: Yakima Nation
Alternate spellings / Mispellings:
In the mid-1990s the Yakima Nation renamed itself to “YAKAMA ” more closely reflecting the proper pronunciation in their native tongue.
Name in other languages:
Region: Plateau Region
State(s) Today: Washington
The Yakamas have lived in Central and South Central Washington since time immemorial. The lands of the Yakama extended in all directions along the Cascade Mountain Range to the Columbia River and beyond. Tribal elders say their distance of travel sometimes took them as far north as Canada and as far south as California. Their original territory covered in excess of 5 million acres.
The Treaty of 1855 was ratified on 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, Govenor Stevens declared the Indian lands open to white settlers only twelve days after the treaty was signed.
Reservations: Celilo Village, Yakama Nation Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land
The Yakama Nation Reservation is located in south central Washington State, a two and a half hour drive or half hour flight from the City of Seattle. The northern boundary of the reservation neighbors with the cities of Yakima and Union Gap.
At the present time (2010) there are believed to be over 12,000 wild horses on the reservation.
Land Area: 1.3 million acres
Tribal Headquarters: Topenish, WA
Time Zone: Pacific
The Yakama Nation flag shows the borders of the reservation in white against a sky blue background. Within the map is a depiction of Mount Adams, which is sacred to the Yakama. Soaring above the mountain is an eagle depicted in full color. Not only is the eagle sacred, but it shares a lifestyle with many Yakama who earn their living fishing for salmon in the waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries.
Above the eagle is the “morning star,” a symbol of guidance and leadership. Surrounding Mount Adams are fourteen gold stars and fourteen eagle feathers honoring the bands of the Yakama Nation. The feathers represent the fourteen chiefs that signed the treaty of 1855, while the fourteen stars represent the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nations. The tribe’s name and the date of the treaty complete the design.
Population at Contact:
Registered Population Today: About 6,300
Tribal Enrollment Requirements:
Ph. (509) 865-5121 Ext. 4447
Name of Governing Body: Tribal Council
Number of Council members: 10, plus executive officers
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers: Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Sargent at Arms
Language Classification: Sahaptin
Language Dialects: Yakama
Number of fluent Speakers:
The Yakama oral history says they have been in their present location since time immemorial. Prior to the reservation era, they roamed about 5 million acres between the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia river, traveling as far north as British Columbia, Canada, and as far south as northern California.
Bands, Gens, and Clans
The Yakama Nation today includes these bands: Kah-miltpah, Klickitat, Klinquit, Kow-was-say-ee, Li-ay-was, Oche-Cotes, Palouse, Pesquose, See-ap-Cat, Sk’in-pah, Shyiks, Wisham, Wenachapam, and Yakama.
Ceremonies / Dances: (Bison) Soup Dance
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
The Yakama Nation Library is a part of the Yakama Nation Tribal School and is a public library located at the Cultural Heritage Center in Toppenish, Washington.
Annual Frybread Contest, held in Topinish on 4th Saturday in April.
The Yakama Nation Mt. Adams Recreation Area is a unique area of the Yakama Reservation. It is the only area within the Yakama Reservation forested boundary that is open to non-Yakama tribal members. The recreation area has scenic hiking trails and basic campsites available to the public. Day use and overnight permits are issued on site.
Legends / Oral Stories:
Art & Crafts:
Villages were located on or near waterways, in places where a variety of resources could be obtained.
They camped in one place for the winter months, then followed the plant harvests and animals for the remainder of the year. The Yakamas have lived in Central and South Central Washington since time immemorial. The lands of the Yakama extended in all directions along the Cascade Mountain Range to the Columbia River and beyond. Tribal elders say their distance of travel sometimes took them as far north as Canada and as far south as California.
Under the Treaty of 1855, the Yakama Nation reserved the right to fish, hunt and gather and other rights at all usual and accustomed places. This includes the preservation of fish habitat at all usual and accustomed fishing places.
Today, the Yakama Nation Fisheries manages resources to ensure continued access by Yakama members to fulfill their ceremonial, subsistence and commercial needs.
Yakama Nation projects developed on land of the Yakama Nation Land Enterprise (YNLE) include fruit orchards and farm operations, a forest mill, timber sales, Legends casino and Event Center, RV Park Resort, sports complex, industrial park, as well as regular and controlled atmosphere (CA) cold storage facilities and a fruit and produce stand. They also have a museum and cultural center that is open to the public.
The Yakama Nation public hunting and fishing program manages the hunting activities of non-enrolled hunters. The Yakama Nation opens a portion of the reservation for hunting of birds and small game for non-enrolled hunters. Each year, seasons are developed, lands are posted, and hunting is allowed according to the rules and regulations of the Yakama Nation. Hunting is allowed for upland game birds including: pheasants, quail, and partridge; waterfowl including: ducks and geese; and rabbits and other small game. To hunt on the Yakama Nation Reservation, non-enrolled hunters, over the age of 12, are required to purchase a Yakama Nation Hunting & Fishing Permit.
They also have Yakama Power, which relies on wind, water, sun, bio-mass or geo-thermal to obtain electricity.
Yakama Nation Networks is dedicated to providing secure and stable high-speed Internet services to residents and businesses located on the Yakama Nation Reservation.
Twelve “Tsoo-thlum”, or Bison were reintroduced to the reservation in 1991, and the tribe now has over 125 head. The Bison Project has over 150 acres of land to manage the herd, utilizes over 150 tons of winter feed per year and produces 25-30 young calves every spring.
Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
Famous Yakama Chiefs and Leaders:
- Chief Spencer (Tah pa shah, meaning Sharp Shooter) – He was Chief of the Klickitats and appointed the 1st chief of the Confederated Yakama Nation.
- Chief Kamiakin – Head Chief of the Yakama, Palouse, and Klickitat peoples east of the Cascade Mountains in what is now southeastern Washington state. In 1855, he was disturbed by threats from the Territorial Governor, Isaac Stevens, against the tribes of the Columbia Plateau. After being forced to sign a treaty of land cessions, Kamiakin organized alliances with 14 other tribes and leaders, and led the Yakima War of 1855-1858.
- Yakama Chief Owhi – one of the signers of the treaty
- Kittitas Chief Teias –
- Klickitat Chief Tenax –
- Palouse Chief Tilcoax –
- Nipo Tach Num Strongheart– Wild west show performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Major Lillie’s Pawnee Bill Shows, and later Hollywood actor, one of the first native americans in film.
The Yakama signed a treaty in 1855 with Govenor Isaac Stevens of the Washington Territory, along with representatives of the Cayuse, Umatilla, Wallawalla, and Nez Perce tribes.
Although the treaty called for a period of two years to allow the various tribes to migrate to and resettle on, their new reservations, Govenor Stevens declared the Indian lands open to white settlers only twelve days after the treaty was signed.
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 Yakima War. The war continued until 1859, when the last phase, known as the Couer d’Alene War ended.
In the News:
Nch’i-Wána, “The Big River”: Mid-Columbia Indians and Their Land
John Slocum and the Indian Shaker Church
A Little War of Destiny: The Yakima/Walla Walla Indian War of 1855-56
A Song to the Creator: Traditional Arts of Native American Women of the Plateau