Yakima nation Singers of Satus Longhouse

Canyon Records
Singers: Nelson Onepennee, Marcelene Onepennee, Joanne Onepennee, Charlene Onepennee, Gilbert Onepennee; Leader.

The Toppenish Creek Ceremonial Grounds at White Swan, Washington, were the scene on July 8, 1972, of an event of great importance to the Yakima Nation. Mount Adams, a heavily forested peak towering 12,307 feet was being returned to these American Indian people by the United States Government. This beautiful creation of nature, shown on the cover of this album, is sacred to the Yakimas, who believe it was placed there by the Creator to remind them that they are not the most important thing on earth. The singers wish this album to honor the returning of Mount Adams to the Yakima people.

On a clear day from the summit of Mount Adams one can see the entire present-day lands of the Yakima. The reservation of the Confederated Tribes and Banks of the Yakima and Klickitat Counties four miles from the city of Yakima.

The Yakima people in historic times were one of the semi-nomadic Columbia Plateau tribes that ranged over the dry uplands of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and Idaho.

By a treaty of June 9, 1855, the United State made an agreement with the Yakima and other tribal groups of the Shahaptin, Salishan, and Chinookan language families, fourteen in all. These peoples, who had similar cultures, ceded the territory from the Cascade Mountains to the Snake and Palouse Rivers and from Lake Chelan to the Columbian River. The treaty state that all all the participating tribes and bands were to be confederated as the Yakima Nation under the chieftainship of Kamaiakan, a noted leader. However, before the treaty could be ratified, the Yakima War broke out when erroneous information was published stating that the Indian land was open for settlement. Led by the Yakimas, several northwest tribes banded together to evict the Whites from their land. They were soon defeated but did succeed in having Washington closed to White settlement by military order.

New attacks on Whites began in 1857 after the discovery of gold in British Columbia and Washington. As miners rushed over tribal lands, the Yakima, Palouse, Coeur d'Alenes and Spokanes united to defeat the United States' forces near Rosalia, Washington, in 1859. But peace was shortlived as Col. George Wright led a punitive expedition against the tribes. On March 8, 1859, the treaty of 1855 was finally ratified and the Yakima Reservation established.

The reservation, however, did not include Mount Adams, although a map which accompanied the treaty had distinctly included it and its foothills, a total of 21,000 acres. Finally, in the 1930's, the map was recovered after a nearly 80-year absence. A program to recover the land was initiated which culminated in the returning of Mount Adams and surrounding land to the Yakimas in 1972.

On the Yakima Reservation today, Indian people are in the minority. Of a total reservation population of approximately 25,000, only about twenty percent are Indian. The Bureau of Indian Affairs reported 7,480 Indians living on or adjacent to the reservation in 1972. Toppenish ("people from the foot of the hills"), and Wapato, are incorporated towns within the reservation boundaries.

In 1944, the Yakima Tribal Council was formally established by the General Council which had been the ruling body representing the fourteen confederated tribes. The Tribal Council numbers fourteen members who are elected for four year terms, and who manage tribal affairs. All members of the tribe over eighteen year of age belong to the General Council.

Yakima is one of the richest reservations; the Yakima Nation has a very substantial income, most of which is received through timer sales. Much of this revenue is dispersed in numerous reservation programs such as a $100,000 scholarship and and a large land purchase and improvement program, the Yakima Land Enterprise. The tribe also pays annual per capita dividend to its members.

Varied industries established within the reservation contribute to the Yakima economy. These include Northwest Hardwood, Inc. (in the tribal industrial park) and private industries such as the Del Monte Cannery, Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, Western Pack (meatpacking), White Swan Lumber Company, and many other fruit and vegetable processing and agricultural service industries.

An extensive irrigation system has been developed over the years to serve the Indian and non-Indian farmers on and around the reservation. Nearly 150,000 acres of farm land are now under irrigation. There are extensive apple orchards, beans, corn, and wheat are other principal crops.

At three dams adjacent to the reservation, Yakimas still fish for salmon as did their ancestors, with dip nets from platforms suspended over the water on stilts.

Members of the Yakima Nation preserve much of their traditional culture. They have established longhouses at Satus, Wapato, White Swan, and Toppenish. The longhouses server as community centers for General Council meetings, educational and recreational activities, funerals, and ceremonial and religious functions.

The people are friendly and hospitable to visitors. They welcome guests at an All-Indian rodeo lasting for three days in early June. This is sponsored by the tribe, and held at White Swan. July 4th Pow Wow is also held at the same location.

Many other feasts and festivals are held during the year, and indicate the gratitude and care of the people for the gifts of the Creator. A Root Festival is held in April in all the longhouses. In May, as part of a two-day festival called the Kow-a-wit (Feast of the First Salmon), traditional games and dances are held. The climax is a feast which features salmon roasted over an open fire. During the summer months there are festivals to mark the annual ripening of the choke cherries, the huckleberries, and similar foods.

Notes . . . Glenn H. white

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War Dance 3 Yakima
War Dance 4 Yakima
War Dance 5 Yakima
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Owl Dance 2 Yakima
Circle Dance 2 Yakima
Owl Dance 3 Yakima
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