Yakima Tribe

Yakima Indians, Yakima Nation (Ya-ki-ná, `runaway’). An important Shahaptian tribe, formerly living on both sides of the Columbia and on the northerly branches of the Yakima (formerly Tapteal) and the Wenatchee, in Washington. They are mentioned by Lewis and Clark in 1806 under the name Cutsahnim (possibly the name of a chief): and estimated as 1,200 in number, but there is no certainty as to the bands it eluded under that figure. In 1855 the United States made a treaty with the Yakima and 13 other tribes of Shahaptian, Salishan, and Chinookan stocks, by whit they ceded the territory from the Cascade Mountains to Palouse and Snake Rivers and from Lake Chelan to the Columbia, and the Yakima Reservation was established, upon which all the participating tribes and bands were to be confederated as the Yakima Nation under the leadership of Kamaiakan, distinguished Yakima chief. Before the treaty could be ratified the Yakima War broke out, and it was not until 1859 that the provisions of the treaty were carried into effect. The Paloos and certain other tribes have never recognized the treaty or come on the reservation. Since the establishment of the reservation the term Yakima has been generally used in comprehensive sense to include all their tribes within its limits, so that it is now impossible to estimate the number Yakima proper.  The total Indian population of the reservation was officially estimated at 1,900 in 1909, but of this number probably comparatively few are true Yakima. The native name of the Yakima is Waptailnsim, ‘people of the narrow river,’ or Pa’kiut’lĕma, ‘people of the gap,’ both names referring to the narrows in Yakima river at Union Gap, where their chief village was formerly situated. Other bands were the Setaslema, of Setass creek, and the Pisko, of the lower Yakima. Little is known of the particular customs of the Yakima, but there is no reason to suppose that their life differed greatly from that of the Nez Percé and other Shahaptian peoples.

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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