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Home to Native American

The area that would later become the Tri-Cities has been populated for centuries by Native Americans. Archaeological evidence suggests that various tribes and bands of people had been in the Pacific North West 15,000 years before the Europeans arrived. These populations used sophisticated methods to sustain themselves as hunter gathers and fishermen. With the arrival of white settlers, tensions over land and spread of disease turned to armed conflict. In the Treaty with the Yakama 1855, fourteen different tribes and bands ceded a large amount of land (including the area that is now Hanford) while retaining their right to fish and gather food from the area. The governor of Washington broke the treaty soon after it was signed, which lead to an armed conflict known as the Yakama War, although several different tribes were involved. After the end of the war, many Native Americans in the region, resigned to their fate and with few other options began to live on the reservation. This had detrimental effects on their way of life.
In 1933, the descendents of the 14 tribes and bands that were recognized under the Treaty of 1855 officially organized as the Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation. Since the mid 1940s the Yakama have worked to be a self sufficient and economically independent nation. Although the federal government acknowledge the Yakama have certain fishing rights under the Treaty of 1855, their rights were continuously opposed by county and state officials. During the 1960s and 70s, Native American activists defied the regulation. This lead to a court case and the landmark Boldt Decision, which ruled that the state could not tell the tribe how to manage something that had always belonged to them. It also directed that half of the annual catch of fish was to be allocated to the members of the 1855 treaty, but denied federal recognition to landless tribes. In 1996, the oldest skeletal remains ever discovered in North America were found on the bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick. The origins of Kennewick man have been debated by scientists and tribes alike since it was discovered. The Umatilla tribe requested custody of the remains so they could be buried according to tribal tradition. They were denied.


I. Overview of American Indian Policies, Treaties, and Reservations in the Northwest Homework questions

II. Indian Reservations, Resistance, and Changing Indian Policy since 1850

III.  The Powwow at the End of the World By Sherman Alexie


Wisdom of the Elders records and preserves oral tradition, cultural arts and environmental science of exemplary Native historians, storytellers and scientists. They share these teachings with all generations of Native Americans and public audiences from diverse cultures, working in collaboration with diverse cultural organizations and educational institutions.

Wisdom of the Elders Radio Program--Homework Questions.

Watch a talk by Russell Jim of the Yakama Indian Nation gave a talk about how Hanford has affected his people.

"Nuclear Attack on the Yakama Culture" -- Homework Questions


Download an overview presentation of Native Americans.

This presentation along with this script give an overview of the history of the Yakama people.  


Read more about Native American settlement at WANMEC

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