TOPPENISH, Wash. – Life changed for thousands of Native Americans in Central Washington 162 years ago Friday.
On that day, leaders of the 14 tribes and bands – including Yakama Chief Kamiakin – gathered near Walla Walla and signed what became known as the Treaty of 1855, which confederated the 14 tribes into the Yakama Nation, while requiring the tribes to give up 11 million acres of traditional lands.
The Yakama Nation will commemorate the treaty’s signing with events starting Thursday and running through Sunday.
Treaty of 1855
Negotiated by territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens, the treaty forced the Yakamas on to a 1.3-million-acre reservation spanning from the slopes of Mount Adams to Granger, and from just south of Union Gap to near Goldendale. The federal government paid the tribe $200,000, to be paid out to tribal members in the form of annuities.
Two weeks after the treaty was signed, Stevens opened much of the ceded land to white settlers, reneging on a promise that he would give the Yakamas two years to get settled on the reservation. That led Kamiakin to clash with the federal government, sparking an uprising known as the Yakama War. The fighting, which began at Toppenish Creek, lasted three years before the Yakama surrendered and Kamiakin left the area, refusing an offer of amnesty if he would help the federal government bring order to the reservation
Standing Rock connection
Charles Walker, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, will participate in Thursday’s parade, which begins at the Yakama Nation offices in Toppenish. Standing Rock members and supporters have been fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D. Tribal members say the oil pipeline – which runs near the reservation and under the Missouri River – destroys sacred sites and threatens the reservation’s water supply.
Yakama Nation members, including Tribal Chairman JoDe Goudy, went to the Standing Rock reservation in a sign of solidarity with the Sioux.
This year’s Treaty Day theme is “Water is Life,” which was also a slogan at the Standing Rock protest.
The parade begins at 10 a.m. and loops around the tribal headquarters and the Yakama Nation Cultural Center. It will be followed by a salmon luncheon at noon.
Cultural Center anniversary
This year’s event also marks the 37th anniversary of the Yakama Nation’s Cultural Center’s opening. There will be a native artists’ market and demonstration at the center’s museum, as well as a free screening of the movie “A League of Their Own.”
The Treaty Day Pow Wow begins Friday, with a grand entry at 7 p.m. at the pavilion at 309-A Mission Road in White Swan. The Pow Wow runs through Sunday.
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