Facts about the Yakama Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Yakama Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
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
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
The Yakama tribe lived along the banks of the
Columbia, Wenatchee, and northern branches
of the Yakima Rivers
Land: Fast flowing rivers, lakes, forests
Climate: Warm summers and cold, snowy
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
What was the lifestyle and culture of the
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
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.
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?
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
also used shields for defensive purposes.
Who were the allies and enemies of the Yakama
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
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.