Facts about the Yakama Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Yakama Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Yakama tribe live, what clothes did they wear, what did they eat and who were the names of their most famous leaders? Discover what happened to the Yakama tribe with facts about their wars and history.
What language did the Yakama tribe speak?
The Yakama tribe spoke in a Sahaptian dialect of the Penutian language and called themselves Pakintlema meaning "people of the gap," or Waptailmim meaning "people-of-the-narrows," reflecting the location of their villages near Union Gap on the Yakima River. After the introduction of the horse the Yakama people hunted buffalo on the Great Plains and adopted the some of the lifestyle elements of this cultural group. The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, or simply the Yakama Nation (formerly Yakima), was a consolidation of 14 bands, or tribes.
Where did the Yakama tribe live?
The Yakama are people of the Plateau Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map in the modern day state of Washington. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Yakama tribe.
The Yakama tribe lived along the banks of the Columbia, Wenatchee, and northern branches of the Yakima Rivers
Land: Fast flowing rivers, lakes, forests and prairies
Climate: Warm summers and cold, snowy winters
Animals: The animals included elk, deer, mountain goat, groundhog, coyote, raccoon, bear, fox, porcupine, weasel, beaver and hare
Fish: Salmon, steelhead trout
Natural Resources: Berries, bulbs, roots and seeds
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Yakama tribe?
The Yakama tribe lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle fishing, hunting, or gathering wild plants for food. The Yakama tribe lived in pit houses in the winter and tule-mat lodges or tepees in the summer. The Lewis and Clark expedition encountered the Plateau Yakama tribe during their explorations in 1806. The Yakama adopted many of the ideas of the Great Plains Indians including the use of the tepee which were covered with buffalo hides and some items of clothing also made from buffalo hides.
The Yakama tribe and the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark encountered the Yakama tribe in October 1805 and met Chief Kamiakin, the war leader of the Yakama Nation.
What did the Yakama tribe live in?
The Yakama were semi-nomadic and needed shelters that were easy to set up and take down. They lived in one of three shelters, depending on the season. The types of shelters were a semi-subterranean pit house, a tepee or a tule-mat lodge.
- Pit houses were winter shelters that were built with logs and sealed for insulation with earth (sod) and grasses. They were built below ground with an entrance and ladder at the top
- The summer shelters were the tepee and tule-mat lodge, both above ground.
- Tepees were covered with animal skins but the tule-mat lodge was covered with mats of strong, durable, tule reeds (bulrushes).
What transportation did the Yakama use? Dugout Canoes
When the tribe inhabited the Plateau region they built dugout canoes made from the hollowed-out logs of large trees. The men hollowed logs with controlled fire that softened the timber so they could carve and shape their canoe to have a flat bottom with straight sides. The canoe was perfect means of transportation for travel along fast streams and shallow waters of the Columbia, Wenatchee and Yakima Rivers.
What food did the Yakama tribe eat?
The food of the Yakama tribe included salmon and trout and a variety of meats from the animals and birds they hunted. They supplemented their protein diet with seeds, roots, nuts and fruits.
What clothes did the Yakama wear?
The clothes worn by the Yakama men and women of the tribe were similar to the clothing of the Nez Perce - please refer to this article for details.
What weapons did the Yakama use?
The weapons used were spears, lances, clubs, knives and bows and arrows. The Yakama also used shields for defensive purposes.
Who were the allies and enemies of the Yakama tribe?
The allies of the Yakama tribe were many of the other Native American Indians who inhabited the Plateau region including the Cayuse, Walla Walla, Spokane, Coeur D'Alene, Payuse and the Nez Perce. The main enemies of the Yakama tribe were the Great Basin groups to the south, including the Shoshone, Northern Paiute, and the Bannock tribes.
The Yakima War
Tensions amongst the Native Indians throughout the Plateau region were increasing due to the white encroachment of tribal lands. In 1847 The tribe fought with their Native Indian allies in the Cayuse War (1847-1855). In 1855 Isaac Stevens (March 25, 1818 – September 1, 1862), the governor of Washington Territory, negotiated a treaty with the Yakama. The Yakima treaty was signed on 9 July 1855 and ceded more than 10 million acres to the United States government in exchange for over 1 million acres of reservation lands in which no white settlers could travel or settle without Yakama approval. Governor Stevens opened Native Indian lands for white settlers less than two weeks after the treaty was signed. A Yakama chief, Kamiakin, called upon the tribes to oppose the declaration and the Yakima War (1855-1858) erupted. It was fought by members of the Native Indian alliance including the Yakama, Cayuse, Walla Walla, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes. Their leaders were Chief Kamiakin, Chief Leschi and Chief Kanaskat. The Battle of Toppenish Creek in Yakima Valley was fought on October 5, 1855 and was a major victory for Chief Kamiakin. The Battle at Union Gap was the second engagement of the Yakima War and fought on November 9 and 10, 1855. 700 American soldiers, under the command of Major Gabriel J. Rains, discovered Chief Kamiakin's village of about 300 warriors and the Yakama tribe were forced to retreat with their women and children. In 1857 the Fraser Canyon gold Rush began after gold was discovered on the Thompson River in British Columbia at its confluence with the Nicoamen River. White prospectors rushed to the area and in 1858 the Yakima War escalated to the other Native Indian tribes. The U.S. Army drove them further east of the Cascades and across the Snake River. The Battle of Four Lakes on September 1, 1858 saw the end of the Yakima War. The losses were so great that the Native Indians were forced to sue for peace and settle onto reservations. Some members of the Yakama tribe then participated in the short lived and ill-fated Coeur d'Alene War. Colonel Wright ordered the destruction of 700 Palouse horses at "Horse Slaughter Camp," hanged Yakama Chief Qualchan, and several Palouse Native Indians. This action finally concluded the Coeur d'Alene and Yakima Wars.