|Oldest son Brad, left, me center, Austin on rt, back in those days|
They all formed the sides of a great oblong geographical bowl which held the fertile Yakima valley. Mt. Hood sat in northern Oregon, across the Columbia River Gorge, but we could see it from Yakima and claimed it as one of our mountains.
Hop fields grew abundantly alongside vineyards.
|The Yakima Valley and the reservation were a fruit bowl of great produce.|
In order not to lose business while the hotel was moved, the owners came up with the craziest idea I ever heard. The hotel had to be jacked up, put on logs, and rolled 10 miles into Yakima to its new site.
Well, the proprietors NEVER shut down business for a single day! While customers ate and slept soundly, the entire hotel was slowly rolled day and night by horse teams who dragged it north into Yakima itself. They only had to move the hitching post for guests’ horses and the hotel steps every day! I wish I had been there to see it.
Can you imagine sleeping while your hotel rolled along?
|Two Yakama Indian women in traditional garb.|
Well, NOT after the White man found them!
At the signing of the Treaty of 1855 ... 14 tribes and Bands were confederated into the Yakama Indian Nation.”
Kamaiakin, Sklom, OWHI, (pay attention to Owhi’s name, it will be important later in Part Two.) Te-cole-kun, La-hoom, Koo-lat-toose, Sch-noo-a, Me-ni-nock, Shee-ah-cotte, Sla-kish, “Elit Palmer”, Tuck-quille, Wish-och-knipits and Ka-loo-as.”
|Young Yakama Woman in tradtional costume.|
Do you know our Federal Government has broken EVERY Indian treaty they ever signed?!! Arrrgh!
The Indian schools the white soldiers built there were torn down completely by the Yakamas after Ft. Simcoe was abandoned. (They hated the white men’s schools. The idea was to "de-Indian" the children, effectively erasing their heritage, while beating the crap out of any who strayed back to their language or customs.) The agency was thereafter moved approximately 30 miles east to present day Toppenish.” (The old agency building later became Heritage College, now recently made a University.)
Each of Pahto’s wives was one of the three mountains surrounding the rolling lands of the reservation.
One wife was what is Mt. Adams today. Another one was modern Mt. Hood, and the third wife in the story was famous Mt. Rainier, the tallest of the three mountains, and in my mind, the most beautiful.
|Mt. Rainier is gorgeous. (photo courtesy of Travel Advisor.)|
Smart lady that Mt. Adams wife.
A ticked off woman! Yeah, I can see that happening!
None of the tribe could read the treaty. So, the Feds broke up the entire reservation into large land plots. While giving the majority of the land plots within the reservation borders to tribe members, the government land agents kept choice pieces which they SOLD to white settlers!
So, on a map the reservation looks like a checkerboard, with “non-reservation” blocks of land within it.
|Pow Wows for the Yakamas means rodeo and great dancing!|
Can you believe that?
In later years, as the tribe got smart and prospered, the Tribal Elders started buying up the unclaimed plots, acting for the whole tribe. They also bought White-owned land when it was for sale. You see, the WHITES could sell their land. Now there are fewer checkerboard NON-Indian owned plots in THEIR reservation. The Yakama got wiser, very quickly.
Guess it's a good thing they had a Hop Museum, huh?
Due to the large majority of Hispanics who also moved to non-Indian land on the reservation over years, the town abounds with really great Mexican Restaurants. No Yakima Indian restaurants, though. If you want to eat authentic Yakama food, you have to try the Buffalo Stew and Fry Bread (yummy) at the Nation's Cultural Center.
There they boast a fine restaurant with gorgeous, yummy buffets on Sundays, a modern Movie Theatre next door to that, a huge Library, and gift store in the center of those. The best part of the Cultural Center is their Museum.
When I was going to college at Heritage, one of our classes wrote materials to send out to elementary school teachers who were planning a student trip to the Museum. The Cultural Center Museum takes you back in time, with the sounds of native bird calls, rushing, gurgling water and even the spoken language of the natives Yakamas.
They have full sized lodges, woven baskets, clothes and tools the Yakamas used for centuries in the Museum. It is really incredible!
The most impressive part of the Yakama Nation Cultural Center you won't get to see at all. That is, UNLESS you are invited to a Salmon Festival or Bread root Festival in the Spring or Fall. In order to enter, you absolutely MUST wear a new pair of moccasins! I am NOT kidding! Inside, everyone sits on the shiny hardwood floor.
It is free and open to the public, but you have to wear those NEW moccasins. It's like their church in there. Farther down this blog is a video that will show the Nation's Festival building and museum.
The Festivals are religious in content. The Tribal Elders enter in full regalia and sit in a half circle at the head of the rectangular meeting hall which has high vaulted ceilings. Yakama women, dressed in ceremonial garb, come in and circle around these Elders three times, carrying just bowls of WATER.
Water is sacred, one of the three sacred elements to the Yakama. They then serve it to the Tribal Elders first.
Next, the women carry in Bread root, or Camas bulbs, ground up and cooked into patties from their flour. That is the second sacred food. It is served after three times circling the Elders. Last comes the most sacred food of all: Smoked salmon! Again, the circling, again the Elders get it first. Along the sides of the hall are long tables heaped with food, more than just those three sacred foods.
But don't touch! Not yet!
There is a special prayer, in the Sahaptin tongue. Then everybody else is allowed to go to the waiting tables on either side of the hall and get a little of the food there, on paper plates. Yakamas are very informal otherwise. They have NO time sense, and may arrive late, or early, and they leave when they darn feel like it!
The gathering of the Bread root or Camas bulb for the ceremonies is a special event annually for the women of the Yakama Nation. They dress in a brand new garment, a specially-sewn dress just for the occasion. They will walk all day, on FOOT, about 20 miles in summer heat, to the mountains where these bulbs grow. They fast, and do not drink a drop of water while traveling.
At night, when they make camp, they break the fast and drink after saying a prayer. The journey is repeated the next day under the same terms. This is serious religion to them.
When the women reach the mountains, they dig the Camas bulbs with special sticks they carry. They pack the bulbs in bags on their backs and head back home, fasting along the way. They have such reverence for life and even plants. It's ironic that I live near the Kamas valley in Utah, where those Native Americans also harvested Camas bulbs.
Well, so much for promoting the Cultural Center, and telling you about the customs of the Camas harvest. I wanted to tell you about the town of Toppenish.
Although a comparatively small town, Toppenish was named one of the 20 Best Places to Live the West by American Cowboy Magazine in 2009 and a Must-See Old West Destination by True West Magazine in 2010.
|Charlie Newell's famous mural in downtown Toppenish|
The gorgeous architecture on the mural below is PAINTED on! The Hop Museum has this on the front of it.
Aren't these murals amazing? There used to be a horse-drawn wagon in Toppenish that carried tourists around to see the murals for a fee. It used to be in my days there, the young driver told us non-stop jokes. He'd cock his cowboy hat, grin, and turn around to "lay one" on us. We laughed our butts off. Here are a couple examples of stupid, corny jokes he told us:
"If a German man goes into an outhouse, what nationality is he when comes back out?" (answer: "He's a Euro-pee-in"!) or ....
"How far can human skin stretch?" (answer: "Well, the Bible says in the Old Testament that Moses tied his ass to a tree, ... and walked 40 miles.") ??!!
Yeah, what was really funny was the peoples' faces when he said that one! Especially the Japanese tourists!
There was also a sheriff in Toppenish who would (after prior arrangements and a small donation) appear suddenly in full regalia wherever you and your family or friends were, and he would ARREST them! He had a warrant with their name on it and all! (for framing as a memento.)
This crusty old sheriff happily put his startled prisoners in antique handcuffs and escorted them "roughly" to the local JAIL! (There was a photographer also available to snap the astonished faces of the "victims.") One time I saw some Japanese tourists go through this. You had to be there to see the expression on THEIR faces. They thought it was REAL!
There's more to come about my time with the Yakama. A couple funny stories, too, that will make it worth looking forward to. How about an Indian Enforcer, out of body spying, and a funny joke on an Indian agent? How about out of body travel, and shapeshifting? See you in Part Two!
Thanks to this website for many photos used here. There are links to the town of Toppenish, the Cultural Center Library, whom I wish to thank for their huge collection of old Indian photos used here.