Published on June 21, 2012 by Amy
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 Yakama in a treaty signed in 1855 by Gov. Isaac Stevens of the Washington Territory and representatives of the Cayuse, Umatilla, Wallawalla, Nez Perce and Yakama tribes.
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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 Yakama 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 Yakama 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 Yakama Reservation.
The Yakama Nation, which is about 6,300 strong (AID, 39) has 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 Yakama. Soaring above the mountain is an eagle depicted in full color. Not only is the eagle sacred, but it shares a lifestyle with many Yakama 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 Yakama 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 Yakama 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 Yakama use to apply to themselves) adopted a flag to represent the Yakama people of the Yakama 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 Yakama 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. The only change made to the flag at the time of the name change was in the name. The flag above is correct except for the name Yakima which is now spelled Yakama