August 27, 1995
First discovered in 1775, by Bruno de Hezeta, later named by the American Robert Gray in 1792 (Lang 1992 : 4) the Columbia River was the most densely populated in Indian tribes (Zuker, et.al. 1983 : 6). Among these people were the Chinookan Wishram who lived on the Washington side of the Lower portion of the river. This paper documents the ethnohistory of these peoples and utilizes a three section format first introduced by David French in his article “Wasco- Wishram.” This article recorded and categorized the Wishram cultural changes occurring within society and divided their history into three parts : the period from 1750 to 1858, 1858 to 1920, and 1920 to the present (which at that time was 1961). Inter dispersed among these descriptions I will go into further detail depicting the major historical events that could have lead to these changes.
1750 to 1858
Descendants from the Chinookan language stock (Zuker, et.al. 1983 : 49), the Wishram’s lifestyle was based on salmon fishing, and their culture placed a heavy emphasis on fishing as well as trade and social rank (Zuker, et.al. 1983 : 8). Some of the Wishram’s main activities during this time was the production of large surpluses of salmon, an appreciation for a diversity of imported articles (received in trade with whites and other Indians), the inclusion of whites and other strangers within their system, a lack of emphasis on political structure, and the lack of concern with the social-political boundaries (probably those set up by the Whites during the early treaty years) (French 1961 : 370).
For the most part Wishram culture remained virtually unchanged except for the changes brought on from early contact with other races and cultures while trading at The Dalles (French 1961 : 341). The biggest change in their culture was the addition of new cultural materials (French 1961 : 341). The first white contact the Wishram saw came in the form of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 who were sent by President Jefferson (Zucker, et. al. 1981 :58). Later fur traders, missionaries, and immigrants and settlers were also frequent visitors to Wishram lands (French 1961 : 349).
As stated above, salmon was their biggest source for subsistence and has continued to be a main source of food for Indians along the Columbia even today (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 16). In addition to being treated as a major source of nutrition, the salmon is also a predominate figure in their religion (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 16). The salmon, once after being caught, is then dried on racks to be later eaten during the winter months of starvation (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 17). In addition to salmon the tribes along the river also ate wappatp, game animals, and berries. Other secondary sources of nutrition included sturgeon, steelhead, flatfish, and suckers which were also caught in the Columbia River (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 20). Plant sources were also important supplements to the fish and were also used for teas, medicines, and as dyes to color clothes and baskets.
As far as labor patterns went during the “pre-contact” era, the women were the gathers of plants whereas men did most of the fishing and hunting (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 17). Interestingly, there wasn’t much agriculture within the Lower Columbia area. “Women were expert botanists” and understood what parts of plants to use and when certain plants could be gathered (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 21). Women, however, also helped in preparations for fishing expeditions, cooking, and processing and preparing the food (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 17).
In hunting large game, bows and arrows were the principal hunting weapon (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 26), while fish hooks, nets or traps, and spears were used in catching salmon and other aquatic foods (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 18). Many of the traditional tools, used for fishing are still used today. The women, on the other hand, used large baskets, and bone or wooden digging sticks to gather and process plant subsistence (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 21). The baskets vary in size, with each basket having its own special use. In addition, many women used stones to grind gathered seeds (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 21).
Early social organization amongst the Wishram was organized into a chiefdom (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 56). Chiefs and their families, along with shamans, held what we would call the upper class division. Chiefs were chosen due to their position within a family (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 56). Wealth and natural authority skill was also a major consideration (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 56). Shamans are placed in this category due to their knowledge and connection to the spirit realms, shamans commanded great respect from the people (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 56). What is interesting is that the Wishram supposedly had different chief tailored to each situation’s needs (Spier and Sapir 1930 : 212). Any command or order given by these chiefs was generally obeyed with no questions asked (Spier and Sapir 1930 : 212).
A second social class made of wealthy commoners came about due to the booming trade (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 56). These people, although they were wealthy, did not have the ability to hold any social positions. However, the second social class could raise their status by gaining wealth and intermarriage into a prestigious family (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 56). Finally the Wishram peoples even had a class devoted to the slaves who were normally acquired through trades or captured in battle (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 41). Being the lowest on the totem pole these people were cast aside and were generally ignored.
Councils were formed to decided important decisions like intertribal disputes, or to give formal orders (in which case headdresses were worn) (Spier and Sapir 1930 : 213). Only men were active participants in councils although the decisions made within these councils did have a direct bearing on the women and children as well (Spier and Sapir 1930 : 213).
Trade was the most important cultural aspect to the Wishram as well as for all the Indians situated along the Columbia River. The Dalles, a place along the Columbia River, found along the Oregon side, is famous for it’s trading sessions. Although the Wishram Indians lived across the river from this area, it is suggested that they never went to trade at The Dalles or anyplace else (Sapier and Sapir 1930 : 224). To this Sapier and Sapir attribute that “there was no evidence of it” (224). Rather they were the middlemen, shuttling goods to and from The Dalles to the rest of the Pacific Northwest. They did have direct trades with the Umitilla where they acquired buffalo skins (Spier and Sapir 1930 : 227). But, most of the items they received were from indirect trades with the Wasco tribe who lived on the opposite bank of the river, near The Dalles (Spier and Sapir 1930 : 225).
The Dalles was the major trading hub along the Columbia River (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42). These major trading sessions were called “trade fairs” and also involved dancing, ceremonial displays, lots of gambling, intertribal marriages, and games for all the attendants (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42). But, most of the time spent away from trading was used to share experiences and ideas (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42). Most items didn’t originate in the this area, rather they were brought in from afar by other traders (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42). Regional goods including salmon were traded here as well as new ideas and cultural motifs (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42).
Trade and food items such as smoked salmon was highly sought after, for use when wintertime came (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 17). Slaves were another commodity to be found during the trade fairs (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 41). Slaves, for the most part, were from distant tribes captured during battle where there was a less chance for escape (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 41). New materials traded included bone, stone and animal skins (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42). But, not all trade items were utilitarian. The peoples at the trade fairs also exchanged religious ceremonies, and social/political concepts (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 42).
Gambling at The Dalles and amongst the Wishram took the form of the hand game (Spier and Sapier 1930 : 267). Traditionally men were the only ones to play it but by the time Spier and Sapier’s research was done, women also played a form of it (267). The object of the game was to guess where the male bone(clear bone) is hidden in the opponents hands. If it is correctly guessed then the victor’s side took a pair of bones. Markers made of sticks were used to determine each sides gains or losses. The actual guessing is done with elaborate hand gestures with one for each position (Spier and Sapier 1930 : 267).
In addition to speaking the Chinookan language the Wishram as well as other traders at The Dalles used a form of Jargon that allowed for trade and ease of interaction among the different tribes (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 52). Formally called Chinook Jargon, it is a variation of “English” where the language is composed of words taken from various other cultures surrounding and trading with the Dalles peoples. Unlike the efficiency of the Chinookan language, much of what was said in the Jargon was misinterpreted. The Chinook language however, was capable of transmitting any kind of information. It also incorporated the use of metaphors, puns and other idioms commonly associated with oral poetry and prose (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 49).
The overall cosmology and religion of the Wishram was based around the world in which they lived in and in Nature itself (Wendt 1982 : 4). Their religion was heavily centered around the life cycle of the salmon (Wendt 1982 : 16), in which many of the ceremonies are linked (Wendt 1982 : 29). To the Indians who worshipped the salmon, its cycle represented a renewal of life in that the fish always came back, to support and sustain the new generations. In spring the Indians saw the return of the salmon, and celebrated this return of the new season in the first salmon rites (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 16). Today, despite decreases in the catching of salmon as a profitable market the ceremonial use of salmon is still prized by the Wishram (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 20). However, this precontact lifestyle changed when the White man invaded Wishram territory.
The Wishram’s first contact with non-indian settlement occurred during 1770 to 1830 when exploration and trade effected the indian’s way of life (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 58). Not only did the whites bring the indians trade goods and new technology but they also brought disease with them as well (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 58). Among the new diseases were small pox, malaria, flu, measles, and venereal diseases (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 60). Massive epidemics were caused due to the Indians intolerance to these diseases, the first epidemic taking its toll in 1775, when small pox claimed more than 15% of some tribes population along the Columbia River (Lang 1992 : 5). Sometimes the diseases were spread long before any of the Whites were physically seen. It is estimated that by the time the Lewis and Clark Expedition hit the Columbia “one half of the Native population had succumbed to disease” (Lang 1992 : 5). The death toll in Oregon was estimated to range from 75% to 90% (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 60).
Trade was also affected after the appearance of the White man. Trade differed from before in that it became the focus and major source of information for both sides. “For many Columbia River Indians, whites and trade were nearly synonymous” (Lang 1992 : 6). On many occasions during these exchanges many keen observations were made about how each side operated (Lang 1992 : 6). Thus many stereotypes were created. The White commented on how astute the Indians were on trading tactics and how they also drove hard bargains (Lang 1992 : 7). It was also during this time when the women “desired the blue beads, rings and other trifles” (Lang 1992 : 7). To the Indians, trade with the Whites meant new goods. “They welcomed the Whites and what they had to offer them,” (Lang 1992 : 9) but they also rejected those areas they didn’t like by stealing and altering the trade rules (Lang 1992 : 9). The Wishram saw trade as being an unimportant aspect of their lives for it had not dominated their lives during this early stage of contact.
On the European side, the Whites wanted stable trading conditions and as many advantages as possible (Lang 1992 : 7). The European Whites wanted to horde all trading rights to themselves and bar the Indians capabilities with the Americans. It was also noted that the fur men always tried to control this access to Indian trading partners in order to gain the upper hand in their trades (Lang 1992 : 7). They were appalled at the Indians lazy style of trading as it was dispersed throughout gambling (Lang 1992 : 8). By the 1840’s, however, Indians began requesting “dollars” on occasion instead of trade goods. For, by this time Indians recognized that the Whites were a growing power in their territory and understood that in order to deal with them they’d have to do it on the White’s terms.
Armed struggles were never a real threat before the White man, but they increased in frequency as the non-Indians shifted from trade to settlement desires during the late 1840’s (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 62). These early conflicts were due mostly to cultural misunderstandings and racial prejudices (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 62). The Wishram weren’t affected by the Yakima War of 1855-56, but those who didn’t want to be associated with the “rebellious Yakimas” moved southward to live with their Wasco relatives and ” to be near home and the Whites” (French 1961 : 372).
During this time period from 1850 to 1880, relationships with the Whites changed due to the new desire of the Whites. The United States was rapidly expanding at this point and began to organize the Pacific Northwest lands into territories for White settlement. But, in order to do so they had to make amends with the Indians living on these precious lands. Up until this point it is noted in French’s study that “the actually wanted relatively little from the Wasco-Wishram” until the missionaries came in 1838 (French 1961 : 351,354). The first missionaries to the Wishram were from the Methodist Church, who originally arrived at The Dalles to covert Indians (French 1961 : 351). They, like the United States federal government, sought to assimilate their culture into the mainstream culture of the Whites. Included in their duties were teaching agriculture to the natives, and to help them change their religious beliefs from their pagan rituals (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 73).
Treaty making was the other major change occurring during this time period. Treaties are said to grant ownership rights to water and other natural resources found on land (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 71). Some of the treaties also contain special permissions and grants. Two treaties involved the Wishram : The Yakima Treaty of 1855, signed at the Walla Walla Council and the Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon, also signed in 1855. From each of the treaties came a reservation where even today the Wishram resides.
The first treaty which directly involved the Wishram was The Yakima Treaty of 1855 which came from a Council held at Walla Walla, Washington in the summer of 1855 (Meany 1909 : 171). By June 11, three treaties were completed and signed, among them was the “Treaty with the Yakima Nation of Indians” (Meany 1909 : 171). This treaty was signed by Kamiakin, Skloom, Owhi, and eleven other chiefs and subchiefs as well as the Governor of the Washington territory Isaac I. Stevens (Meany 1909 : 171).
The treaty held that the tribes of “Yakima, Palouse, Pisquouse, Wenatshapam, Klikatat, Klinquit, Kow-was-say-ee, Li-ay-was, Skin-pah, Wish-ham, Shyiks, Oche-chotes, Kah-milt, and Se-ap-cat” as one, confederated tribe united under the generic name of Yakama (US Government 1859 : 1). There are eleven articles in the treaty, each outlining what land and rights were to be given to the indians living on the reservations :
Article one described the lands, in meticulous detail, that they were to give up to the federal government (US Government 1859 : 3).
Article two defines the boundary of land “reserved from the lands above ceded for the use and occupation of the aforesaid confederated tribes and bands of Indians” (US Government 1859 : 4). United States citizens are given the right to enter and settle “any lands not actually occupied and cultivated by said Indians” (US Government 1859 : 4).
Article three grants the federal government permission to build roads through the reservation (US Government 1859 : 5). It also grants the indian’s “exclusive right of taking fish in all the streams, where running through or bordering said reservation, is further secured to said tribes…as also the right of taking fish at all usual and accustomed places, in common with citizens of the territory” (US Government 1859 : 5). In addition to fishing, permission is also granted to gather roots and berries and erect temporary homes at the places above (US Government 1859 : 5).
Article five states that the confederate tribes will be paid “in addition to the goods and provisions distributed to them at the time of signing this treaty, two hundred thousand dollars” to compensate them for the lands taken by the federal government (US Government 1859 : 5). The rest of this article then illustrated in detail the exact amounts that are to be given within the first year of the reservations resurrection (US Government 1859 : 5).
Article six elects Kamaiakun (the Yakima head chief) as the reigning head chief over all tribes (US Government 1859 : 6). It also gives the Present of the United States the right to divide the reservation, whole or portions of it, into lots and then assign families and individuals to these lots (US Government 1859 : 6). This article may be a direct foreshadow of the government’s plan to instigate allotments to all Indian reservations.
Article seven states that the Indian’s annuities are not to be used to pay off individual debts accumulated in gambling (US Government 1859 : 6).
Article eight requires all tribes to acknowledge their dependance on the United States and “promise to be friendly with all citizens thereof” (US Government 1859 : 6). This article also gives measures on punishment if this and other laws are ever broken.
Article nine address the indian’s wish to exclude all alcoholic beverages from reservation premises to prevent them from drinking (US Government 1859 : 6). It is stated that those who do so have their annuities revoked.
Article ten sets up the boundaries for the “Wenatshapam fishery” (US Government 1859 : 7).
Finally, Article eleven, concludes the treaty with remarks made by both parties agreeing to abide by its laws as soon as it’s ratification by President James Buchanan (US Government 1859 : 7).
On April 18, 1859 this treaty and all that it outlined was ratified and the rest of the official Wishram history became adjoined with the reservation.
The other treaty that had an affect on the Wishram, those who moved to live near the Whites and the Wasco at the Dalles, was signed at The Dalles Treaty Council in 1855 (Wendt 1982 : 46). This council was called by the Agent R.R. Thompson in June of 1855 (Wendt 1982 : 46). The meetings were held until June 25 and most of the middle Oregon tribes met with the Indian Superintendent Joel Palmer (Wendt 1982 : 46). It was the same situation here, as it was in Washington.
The federal government wanted these indians to move 70 miles South to want is now known as the Warm Springs Reservation. The land here was a barren wasteland, filled with hot springs and arid lands (Wendt 1982 : 46). Under the treaty, which became known as “The Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon” these Indians were placed under the care of the United States as wards (Wendt 1982 : 46). Of course, the government also wanted to “instruct them in ways of the white culture” as well (Wendt 1982 : 47). At first the chiefs generally disagreed with what the treaty had to say but they quickly bowed down to the white pressures and signed the treaty (Wendt 1982 : 47).
This Treaty once again outlined what lands were to be ceded from Indian occupation in exchange for a reservation, cash payments and rights from the government (Shane 1950 : 17). The treaty also included the statement from the Yakima treaty which gave these indians the exclusive right of taking fish in the streams as well (Shane 1950 : 19). This treaty was not ratified by Congress until March 8,1859 (Shane 1950 : 19). But it did ceded 10 million acres to the United States (Zucker, et. al 1981 : 88). Although its not stated anywhere there are Wishram located living on this reservation; however, the Wishram are officially recognized as a tribe is at the Yakima Reservation.
In 1865 the federal government attempted to impose a farming lifestyle on indians that spurred another treaty. This treaty was never accepted by the tribes and soon abandoned by the government (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 97). Then in 1871, Congress stopped the treaty making process all together (Zucker, et. al 1981 : 71). Between 1778 and 1871, it is estimated that North American Indian tribes “negotiated and signed 371 law binding treaties with the United States government” (Zucker, et. al 1981 : 69).
1858 to 1920
This era opened at a time when significant losses and replacement of elements of the earlier culture were happening (French 1961 : 371). One of the Wishram’s reactions to these crises was to sign the treaties proposed by the federal government and go live on reservation lands (French 1961 : 372). French states that the Chinookans signed these treaties without opposition to what they had to say (French 1961 : 372). It was during this time when the Wishram moved up north to live on the Yakima Reservation (French 1961 : 373). Aside from reservations, spearfishing came to be the most important Chinookan settlement (French 1961 : 376). For, it provided one of the better places for the Wishram to live (French 1961 : 376).
It was also during this period when the reservation social organization lead to unity and a higher emphasis on the structure of the tribal organization (French 1961 : 385). On the reservation, the white BIA agents behavior’s were inconsistent. Some wanted all the different groups to act as a unified tribe whereas other wanted them to be fully assimilated into White culture (French 1961 : 386). However, family structure and functions remained virtually unchanged unlike many other areas of their culture (French 1961 : 390).
Learning about white culture also caused many changes in the self-conceptions of the Wishram (French 1961 : 397). Their outward appearance and lifestyle conformed to the norms of the white society (French 1961 : 397). Many tribal members could now speak english as well the Chinookan languages (French 1961 : 396). Their religion went through several changes with most of the peoples converting to Christianity (French 1961 : 397).
The Yakima Reservation was created out of Washington’s Treaty of 1855 and the Yakima Wars (Loudon 1967 : 37). The government created the Reservation under the premise that it was necessary to locate the indians at one central location to protect and implement federal government policies that would administer to their needs (Loudon 1967 : 37). It is also under this reservation where the Wishram are officially recognized (Pratt 1994 : 48). The site chosen for the reservation was at Fort Simcoe and control of the reservation was then assigned to Agent Dr. Richard H. Lansdale in 1859 (Loudon 1967 : 37-38). During the implementation of the reservation its inhabitants were described as a leaderless and impoverish group (Loudon 1967 : 40). The size of the reservation, during its creation was 1,2000,000 acres (Loudon 1967 : 30).
The Warm Springs Reservation, on the other hand, was uninhabited by any tribe or band of Indians prior to 1950 (Shane 1950 : 3). This reservation was created out of the Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon (also known as the Treaty of 1855) (Shane 1950 : 3). At the treaty’s signing the tribes of Tygh, Tenino, Wyam, Warm Springs, and Wasco Chinookans are officially located on the reservation lands along with some Wishram (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 97) Today, however, only the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiute Indian tribes are registered here (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 97).
Land used for this reservation was ten percent less that what was stated in the 1855 treaty, and throughout the reservation’s history faulty surveys kept changing the boundaries therefore keeping some and from them (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 97). The most controversial being the conflicts over a strip of land known as the McQuinn Strip (97).
The next major historical event to occur was the General Allotment act of 1887, also known as the Dawes Act (Zucker, et.al. 1981 : 73). This act “allowed Indians reservations to be divided into sixty acre [or smaller] allotments for assignment to tribal members” (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 73). These plots of land then remained in federal trusts for 25 years after which the Secretary of the Interior could issue a fee patent on these tracts of land, if the owner was declared competent (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 73). The United States in issuing this law assumed that private ownership of land would cause the Indians to integrate outside ways faster (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 74). But, once the 25 year period expired, many Indians who weren’t accustomed or trained in new jobs or lifestyles refused to drop their tribal loyalties and adopt agriculture as their main staple of living (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 74). These indians soon became poverish.
This act also caused the reservation lands to diminish, due to the leasing and sales of these surplus lands to non-indians (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 74). Because of this last amendment, over 90 million acres of land was lost due to Allotment (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 74). Despite all the attempts of the United States government to assimilate Indians into American society, this Act along with many others failed in its attempt (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 74). However, the Warm Springs Reservation as well as the Klamath Reservation were able to keep tribal reserves of land (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 74).
By 1902, 2,484 allotments were created and “practically all of the land considered fit for irrigation had been taken” (Davidson, et. al 1955 : 37). Among these, 379 leases (totalling 28,559 acres of land) were issued to “non Indian operators” (Davidson, et. al 1955 : 37). By 1911, a grand total of 3,160 allotments were made and; in 1914 when the general allotment period ended 4,506 individuals had been granted over 444,000 acres of reservation land (Davidson, et. al 1955 : 37). Indians born since are without original assignments and any land gotten is from tribal or familial inheritance (Davidson, et. al 1955 : 37). It is estimated that the number of public domain allotments in 1959 equaled 31,226 acres of land (Loudon 1967 : 76).
Initially all Indians were opposed to the sale of unalloted lands (Loudon 1967 : 77). They knew the value of their lands and how this value would increase over the years (Loudon 1967 : 77). Later they agreed to the sales of the plots if the money gained went towards improving the living conditions on the reservations (Loudon 1967 : 77).
Another issue that popped up during the Reservation years was the education of Indian children and the institutions to teach them the skills needed to survive within the white man’s world. Therefore, boarding schools were instituted to teach these children the rhetorics of life. Indian schooling, however, dates back to 1606 when the Virginia colony desired to “bring the infidels and savages to human civility and a settled government” (Siegel 1940 : 5). Another instance of state supported education occurred on July 12, 1775 when the board of Indian commissioners established a program at Dartmouth College to educate Indian children (Siegel 1940 : 5).
The first boarding school was established on the Tulalip Reservation, in 1869 (Siegel 1940 : 6). It was maintained by missionaries (Siegel 1940 : 6). Later in 1893 a fourth of all appropriation for indian education was paid to these boarding schools (Siegel 1940 : 6). The philosophy on which the boarding schools were founded was in order to assimilate indians, the children had to be kept as far away from their parents as possible (Siegel 1940 : 7). Keeping them separate prevented any interference from the parents in converting the children away from their Indian lives. The usage of boarding schools across the nation reached its highest point around 1912 (Siegel 1940 : 8). On the Yakima Reservation the federal government opened a boarding school in 1860 within the old building of old Fort Simcoe (Siegel 1940 : 7).
In 1930 the State of Washington started to educate indian children (Siegel 1940 : 1). In return, the federal government reimbursed the state “on the basis of the average cost per pupil” (Siegel 1940 : 1). This contract known as the Contract for Indian Education 1935-36 was signed and put into effect during the school year of 1935 (Siegel 1940 : 1). The contract as written solved and created many problems. The plan failed to take into consideration the special services given to indian children before 1935 (Siegel 1940 : 2). Among these services given were free lunches, texts, transportation, and vocational classes (Siegel 1940 : 2). The main benefit was to create a better environment for indian children to grasp the most out of their school experiences.
By 1896, however, the idea of boarding schools were abandoned by the federal government (Siegel 1940 : 7). However, those schools that were established during this time were still allowed to operate until its official abandonment in the early 1900’s. At the time of Siegel’s thesis, in 1940, the average cost per pupil was between .01 and 3.57 dollars (Siegel 1940 : 41). This money went to the state of Washington for indian attendance where no more than an annual amount of $20,000 was allocated to fund indian schooling (Siegel 1940 : 41).
1920 to Present
The last major period of cultural change experienced by the Wishram was during the 1920’s to the present. French’s article is dated 1961 so the present information he gives had happened around that time. I will attempt to go further, and describe some of the more recent happenings with those living on the Yakima and Warm Springs Reservations
There are three main characteristics that define the Chinookan culture during this final period (French 1961 : 398). These changes being the immersement of the Wishram community within the money-oriented economy of the Pacific Northwest, the dwindling of the Chinookan culture in importance so that the Wishram living on the reservations are now likely to interact with Whites and other cultures in situations that they would have done with other Chinookans, and finally, they did not behave like indians at all in many situations (French 1961 : 398). When introducing themselves to outsiders, they would label themselves as “Yakima” rather than Wishram (French 1961 : 402).
“One the reservations, White-introduced systems for ownership and use of land had yielded a moderate degree of stability in family residence” (French 1961 : 399). Generally, farming became the way of life and brought in lots of cash until World War One when the marketability began to decrease (French 1961 : 407). Nowadays, they specialize in commercial fishing utilizing traditional methods for capturing fish (French 1961 : 407). Because of increasing opportunities in wage based work during the early 1930’s the population experienced a increase (French 1961 : 399).
Shamans and shamanism has almost ceased to exist for it is being replaced by western medicine and scientific attitudes (French 1961 : 413). Only a few Chinookans participate in the Longhouse religion and activities (French 1961 : 414). Artwork has also seen a change over the years. Where they once made their art for utilitarian purposes, now they paint their traditional designs on manufactured baskets and buckskins (French 1961 : 415). “Like other Americans, Indians are more likely to be collectors and passive consumers of the arts than to be creators” (415). Where once oral stories dominated the culture only a few Chinookans “if any, know more than fragments of the traditional body of oral literature” nowadays (French 1961 : 415). Television was also introduced to the population at Warm Springs and the shows became a regular attendance (French 1961 : 415). Overall, the indian behavior of the Wishrams was then limited to technology, class attitudes, family responsibilities, religious ceremonies, and music (French 1961 : 417). In 1924, Indians became full United State citizens due to their participation in World War I (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 74).
Starting in 1930, the federal government made another decision that had great importance on the way that reservations were to be run. The bill was called the Indian Reorganization Act and each tribe or confederation of tribes living on reservation lands were asked to submit a proposal for self-regulation (Hunn 1990 : 279). Generally, the bill was designed to further remove governmental control over the Indians and give them “greater freedom.” John Collier spearheaded the law, which also officially ended the allotment period of Indian lands (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 76). The IRA bill also made provisions for tribes to recover lands unclaimed during the allotment period (Zucker, et.al 1981 : 76). However, under this proposal the Indians were still under the supervision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (hereafter referred to as the BIA) and their proposals had to be constructed similar to the United States government system (Hunn 1990 : 279).
Passed in 1934, the Law allowed tribes to form corporations for their own economic development (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 76). It also stated that the BIA had “to prefer Indians in [its] hiring practices” (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 76). The main benefit that came from this act was that tribes were able to consolidate many of the lands owned and continue some of the ongoing tribal enterprises (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 76). In 1938 Warm Springs submitted their proposal for independence later followed by the Yakima Reservation in 1944 (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 280). After the breakout of World War II, the period for tribal reorganization ended as well as anything else that the IRA could do for Indians (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 77).
Under the IRA the Yakima Reservation’s leadership was organized into a tribal council where all adults constituted a General Council which delegated administrative and executive authority to an elected Tribal Council of 14 members (this chosen by majority vote) (Hunn 1990 : 280). The members of this Council held their position in 14 year terms (Hunn 1990 : 280). The Warm Springs Tribal Council also works like the one based on the Yakima Reservation. Their tribal government includes the regulation and control of land management, court systems, and they have several human and business welfare departments (Zucker, et. al. 97). The Council elects “three chiefs for life” and other councilmen who serve for specified terms (Hunn 1990 : 281). People who live on the reservation vote by general consensus (Hunn 1990 : 281).
Instead of giving the tribes’ original land back, lands taken away during allotment and the treaty days, Congress authorized the Indian Claims Commission to determine these claims against the taking of native lands and award tribes money sums equal to the land taken (Zucker, et.al. : 122). Started in 1942, this Commission set up temporary measure to deal with the “unusual legal issues” (Zucker, et.al. : 122). To do this, Congress gave the Commission five years, until 1951, to settle all claims but later misjudged the amounts of claims and the time needed so that this proceeding were extended over five times (Zucker, et.al. : 123). The ruling minimized the extend of tribal territories and demanded that the tribes give proof and validation of living in these lands “until time immorial” (Zucker, et.al. : 125). This measure was only put in to reduce money award allotted to each tribes claim (Zucker, et.al. : 125). There were two cases that affected both the Yakima Reservation and the Warm Springs Reservation and the tribes living on it.
Claim number 234 affected the Chinook tribe and bands from the Yakima Reservation (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 116-17). The goal of this proceeding was to recover over $30 million dollars for Washington and Oregon lands taken in 1850. The tribes claimed that the 1912 payments given for these lands were a unconscionable amount (Zucker, et.al. : 117). The ICC decision ruled an award for the recovery of 76,630 acres, and the final award given was $42,251. This figure was computed by taking the over all value of the land which was $75,000 subtracting for the 1912 payment of $26,000 and legal expenses totaling $6,441 (Zucker, et.al. : 117).
Case number 198 affected the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Zucker, et.al. : 118-19). The goal of this proceeding was to recover $9,800,000 for lands ceded in 1855. They claim that the treaty payments were also a unconscionable amount of 10 million acres of Native lands (Zucker, et.al. : 119). The ICC’s first ruling was contested so that a second compromise had to be made (Zucker, et.al. : 119). This ruling dismissed the settlement and stated that since no acreage or boundaries were defined in the claim, but awarded a final money sum of $1,102,500 to the tribes as long as this award wasn’t appealed by either side (Zucker, et.al. : 119). Legal fees totaling $122,500 was also taken out of the final sum (Zucker, et.al. : 119). Some of the more recent restorations of land given back to the reservations included giving the McQuinn Strip back to the warm Springs Reservation in 1972 while the Yakima Reservation received Mount Adams (Zucker, et.al. : 125).
The termination of many tribes, located on property owned by the United States, took effect in August 1953 (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 77). It was during this time when Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 108 in which ” Congress wished to officially terminate its special relationship with all tribes” (Zucker, et.al. : 77). The effect of this Resolution was, once again, to further incorporate Indians into the mainstream society (Zucker, et.al. : 77). During 1954 to 1958, more than “thirteen different acts ended the status of more than 12,000 people in eight states” (Zucker, et.al. : 77). The BIA was given the task of determining which tribes were to be terminated. Luckily, the Wishram were not affected by this decision.
Tribal councils made of Indian elders composes most of the tribal authority on the reservations, during 1920 to the present. It seems that since the beginning of the White involvement with Indians they’ve wanted to control them (Goeppele 1990 : 418). After the reservation’s creation, Congress gave the state and federal government the right to “exercise their authority over Indians and their reservations” (Goeppele 1990 : 418). Sadly, this trend of limiting Indian authority in criminal and civil jurisdiction over non-Indians, is still the current trend (Goeppele 1990 : 419). However, there have been many court cases such as Brendale vs. the Confederated Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation, disputing the authority of Indians over non-Indians (Goeppele 1990 : 417).
The Supreme Court had to decide whether or not the “Yakima tribe has authority to zone non-member fee land located on the Yakima Reservation” as jurisdiction over the case mentioned above (Goeppele 1990 : 417). Their ruling over this case stated that the Tribal Council does have some authority over Whites in their zones but only if non-Indians are living in the closed area of the reservation (Goeppele 1990 : 417,422). However, this ruling does not affect tribal powers over trust land or land allotted in trust for tribal members (Goeppele 1990 : 422).
On June 30, 1965 Yakima Reservation’s land acreage totalled 1,094,443 of which 780,500 acres are owned by the Confederation as a whole (Loudon 1967 : 14). Of that total figure there are 500,00 acres of forested land worth about 67 million dollars (Loudon 1967 : 115). This record states that forestry has become a stable basis for the economy and income of the reservation (Loudon 1967 : 115). As of 1990, the land reserve of the reservation has increased to 1,134,830 acres and the 1980 census was 75,00 persons (Hunn 1990 : 276).
In 1964, the Warm Springs Reservation opened the Kah-Nee-Tah recreational resort near the hot springs (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 98). In addition to its functions as a weekend getaway, they resort offers many sorts of gambling games from the traditional hand game to the popular Vegas style slot machines. It along with a small timber industry draws in most of the money for the reservation (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 98). The other activities the reservation is trying to do includes the preservation of the fish runs in Oregon through fish hatcheries, as well as the preservation and commitment to “proper” land use (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 98). In 1974, they opened the Warm Springs Museum which houses a permanent collection of hundreds of craftspeople’s work (Pratt 1995 : 50). This began as a project in 1968 when the tribal leaders saw how many tribal artifacts were being placed in private collections off reservation lands (Pratt 1995 : 51). Over $850,000 has been invested to build its current collection of 2,000 artifacts and 2,500 documents and photographs (Pratt 1995 : 51). The “artifact collection spans all aspects of tribal life, ceremonial, decorative, and utilitarian”(Pratt 1994 : 44). In December 1992, the reservation was also the first Indian tribe to have public offerings of tax-exempt bonds to help finance a early childhood center (Wana Chinook Tymoo 1992 : 3).
Another more recent issue that affects both reservations and all Indians living on the Columbia River deals with the salmon and the Indians rights to fish. Today there are fewer than 500,000 salmon swimming in the Columbia River Watershed and most of these come from fish hatcheries. (CRITFC 1994 : 1) Salmon spawn in the fresh water of the Columbia and grow until they’re juveniles when they swim downstream back into the oceans (CRITFC 1994 : 2). Most salmon die after spawning having competed their life cycle (CRITFC 1994 : 20).
The first court case over this issue appeared in 1905, when it was determined that a man named Mr. Winans blocked Indian access to traditional fishing sites covered by the 1855 treaty (Hunn 1990 : 285). This case, called the United States vs. Mr. Winans ruled in favor of the indian fishermen, also affirmed that the treaties remained enforced, it defined the “reserved rights doctrine” in that any rights not specified in treaties are reserved by the indians, and gave the possibility of state rights to indian regulation in special cases (Hunn 1990 : 285).
Later, another court case happened, SoHappy vs. Smith (later US vs. Oregon) was another landmark fishing rights case (Hunn 1990 : 286-7). The main cause for this case was that the SoHappy’s used traditional fishing methods that the state had earlier outlawed in the fishing regulations (286). Judge Belloni’s ruling required states to regulate fishing so that Indians were guaranteed a fair share of salmon (Hunn 1990 : 287).
However, the most influential decision regarding Indian rights to fish came in 1968 ruling from the Boldt Decision (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 196). The Supreme Court, in their ruling, gave the state of Washington the right to regulate Indian fisheries. This was done in the name of salmon conservation (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 169). The Boldt Decision’s effects began in 1970 and only regulated off-reservation fishing rights. Another subsequent decision came in 1974 which ruled that “treaty tribes had the right to an opportunity to take fifty percent of [all] harvestable catch of fish” (Zucker, et. al. 1981 : 169). It was this ruling which caused an uproar in the salmon fishing industry.
This later decision resolved an earlier ruling, made by Judge Belloni, of “fair and equitable share of all fish which it permits to be taken from a given run” (Hunn 1990 : 287). Boldt defined this as an equal or 50 percent cut of all harvestable fish destined to reach treaty sites (Hunn 1990 : 287). The fish from this was then shared among Washington treaty tribes.
This decision along with a strong desire to protect the Columbia River watershed, lead to the creation of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in 1977 (Hunn 1990 : 287, CRITFC 1993 : 6). Who developed a five year plan to enhance Columbia fishing for all parties (Hunn 1990 : 287). This Commission is formed of representatives from the Yakima, Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Nez Perce Reservations (CRITFC 1993 : 6). Their main goal is to maintain the salmon population so that future generations will always have plentiful salmon to eat and use in traditional indian rituals (CRITFC 1993 : 7). From this four priorities were created :
To resolve conflicts with the Endangered Species Act in exercising treaty-protected fishing activities (CRITFC 1993 : 7).To increase and protect the rapidly decreasing salmon population (CRITFC 1993 : 7). To create a strong, unified tribal voice (CRITFC 1993 : 7). To find ways to bring together all the talents and skills of fisheries and staff to address the issues ESP and salmon runs (CRITFC 1993 : 7).
From these goals they hope to “achieve more integration between individual tribal goals and talents, and the intertribal goals and talents of the Commission and its central staff” (CRITFC 1993 : 7).
In researching the tribal history and ethnography of the Wishram I have noted many changes that took place during and after the first contact period with non-Indian cultural groups. However, my research has left many questions unanswered. For example, on both of the reservations where some of the Wishram population live none of my research materials stated whether or not they held Tribal Council positions or if they still acted like a tribe outside of being a part of the reservation.
A call to the Yakima Reservation did confirm that the Wishram religion is still honored and possibly practiced, but I was not able to reach the contact that could take my Wishram specific calls. Currently the reservation does not have a casino, but over 8,500 registered Indians are in support for one to be built and the plans for this are in the works. Their other stable means of economy is a small forestry service and many shops. The 1935 Washington State Indian Schooling Law is no longer in affect, they have several public schools which are consistent with both the state codes and their own. In addition to this they also have a tribal school which is helpful in giving students a second shot in education. This school helps students whose parents are too poor or those who are getting low grades or are having problems with the public system. I also was not able to find any information on how and what the procedures for land buy-back are, or if either Reservation has attempted to purchase lands back from the federal government in recent years.
I also found one interesting difference between the two reservations during my research. It seems that the Yakima Reservation was and still is more instrumental in trying to regain land lost in treaties or during the allotment period. There were many accounts and details depicting their struggles to purchase these lands from the federal government. On the other hand, the Warm Springs Reservation seemed less concerned with the actual purchase of land and more concerned with the development of the tribal cultures residing on the land. They have a wonderful museum, depicting the struggles and triumphs of these tribes as well as a Casino and Resort where people can live in tipis for a weekend.
What can be said for the future? It is my hope that the Wishram as well as the Reservations continue in their ways of the old, to educate and remind us what has happened to their traditions and in history. It is my hope that one day the Wishram will become a strong Indian voice and gain all the traditions that were lost due to the great American assimilation of their culture. Perhaps what they did in the past, in changing their lifestyles to fit in with the White man culture was seen as the only way for them to preserve their culture and their bloodline rather than being a traitorous gesture to the Indian way of life.