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Yakama Nation - Washington (U.S.)

Native American

Last modified: 2017-08-23 by rick wyatt
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[Yakama Nation - Washington flag] image by Donald Healy, 1 February 2008

See also:

The Band

[Yakama Nation - Washington map]
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy

Yakama Nation - Washington

Located in southwestern Washington State is the 1,130,000 acres reservation that is home to the Yakima or Yakama Indian Nation (AID, 39). That reservation was granted to the Yakima in a treaty signed in 1855 by Gov. Isaac Stevens of the Washington Territory and representatives of the Cayuse, Umatilla, Wallawalla, Nez Perce and Yakima Tribes.

Although the treaty called for a period of two years to allow the various tribes to migrate to and resettle on, their new reservations, Gov. Stevens declared Indian lands open for white settlers a mere twelve days after the treaty was signed (ENAT 253-254). A Yakima chief, Kamiakin called upon the tribes that had been duped to forcefully oppose this declaration, but not before they had built up their strength to oppose the military. Things move too quickly and shortly thereafter a series of raids, counter raids and reciprocal atrocities began. This uprising became known as the Yakima War.

The war continued until 1859, when the last phase, known as the Couer d'Alene War ended. The Yakima accepted their reservation and still dwell there today. In addition to the Yakima, some Paiutes and a few members of other Tribes reside on the Yakima Reservation.

Donald Healy 2008

The Flag

The Yakima Nation, which is about 6,300 strong (AID, 39) first adopted a flag (sample flag provided by Elmer's Flag and Banner, Portland, OR) that shows the borders of the reservation in white against a sky blue background. Within the map is a depiction of Mount Adams, an impressive mountain that lies partly within the reservation. This mountain is sacred to the Yakima. Soaring above the mountain is an eagle depicted in full color. Not only is the eagle sacred, but it shares a lifestyle with many Yakima who earn their living fishing for salmon in the waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Above the eagle is the "morning star" a symbol of guidance and leadership and arcing around Mount Adams are fourteen gold stars and fourteen eagle feathers honoring the bands of the Yakima Nation. The feathers represent the fourteen chiefs that signed the treaty of 1855, while the fourteen stars represent the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nations. The Tribe's name and the date of the treaty complete the design.

In 1955 members of the "Old Toppenish Long House" (Toppenish is a term the Yakima use to apply to themselves) adopted a flag to represent the Yakima people of the Yakima Reservation ("As Long As The River Flows", Akwesosne Notes, III:4, May, 1971). The flag adopted at that time was similar to the present flag of the Yakima Nation but did not include the reservation map, nor did it have the writing on it. It is obvious that the flag adopted in 1955, the centennial of the treaty signing was the basis for the current flag.

In the mid-1990s the Yakima Nation renamed itself to "YAKAMA" more closely reflecting the proper pronunciation in their native tongue. A new flag was adopted at that time. It is simply the old flag with the new name spelled properly.

Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 1 February 2008