What is the Yakima Nation?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
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  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2019
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The Yakima Nation, also spelled Yakama, is a Native American group that was generally located in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington states. In modern times, members of the Yakima Nation reside on a 1.37-million-acre reservation located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in south-central Washington State. They moved there as a result of a treaty signed by the Yakima Nation and 13 other tribes with the Washington territorial governor Isaac Stevens in 1855. The individual tribes would organize together to form the Confederate Tribes of the Yakama Nation in 1933. There are about 8,800 active members of the confederation and approximately 13,700 people live on the reservation.

Historically, the Yakima people were a tribe of hunters and gatherers. Most of the tribal economy was generally based on trading goods, such as horses, dogs, fishing goods, and handicrafts, such as baskets. They would typically migrate around the Columbia basin as the seasons changed in order to find food. Many of the Yakima would perform rituals that honored the environment. In the early 19th century, Christian missionary Charles Pandosy began to introduce the concepts of Christianity to the Yakima.


The Yakima Treaty of 1855 forced the tribes to collectively turn over about 11.5 million acres of land to the federal government and in return, a reservation was established for the Native Americans. The treaty allowed two years for the tribes to leave the ceded territory, but within two weeks, settlers had moved in, prompting a confrontation that led to an uprising. For three years, the Yakima Nation fought with federal troops in what became known as the Yakima War.

Afterward, most of the Yakima tribes settled on the reservation and generally experienced indoctrination, forced labor, and social breakdown. Eventually, conditions improved as individual lots were distributed among the people and ownership rights were established. Since then, the Yakima Nation has worked hard to maintain self-sufficiency and economic freedom.

A general council is the governing body of the Yakima Nation. Once a member of the Yakima Nation reaches the age of 18, he or she is enrolled into the council as a voting member. The council typically presides over a standing committee, which presents important issue for voting, including education, housing, farming, and wildlife management.

The Yakima Nation jointly manages eight rivers, including the Columbia River, with the state of Washington. Together, they ensure the various fisheries are adequately stocked each year to facilitate a thriving fishing economy. Additionally, the Yakima generally manages irrigation projects and grazing areas within the Columbia Basin.


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Post 2

While on a trip to the Northwest we stayed at the Yakima Nation RV park. We didn't spend much time in this area, but I remember reading about the Yakima Native Indians at the restaurant where we ate.

This was a modern campground, but what was really interesting were the teepees they had set up at one end of the campground. You could spend the night in one of these, and you could fit up to 5 people in them.

It cost about the same to stay in a teepee as it was to stay in my camper, so I decided to go with the comfort of my own bed!

If you like seafood, this is a great place to go. I had some of the best salmon that I have ever had here. They said it was fresh, and it sure tasted like it was.

Post 1

When we were visiting friends in Washington, my husband wanted to check out the Yakima Nation Legends Casino.

I figured it wasn't much different than any other casino I have been to, and went to visit the museum and cultural center instead.

This was a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. The museum was very informative, and I learned a lot about the history of the people and their territory.

While my husband was spending money at the casino, I spent some of my own at the gift shop. They had a great assortment of Pendelton jackets and other items. I also picked up some unique bead work and blankets for gifts.

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