Honored Elders

Wa'lúmt is the traditional Yakama word for the river. Willamette is post-contact pronunciation of the word Wa’lúmt. This is supported by historical accounts, linguistics, as well as testimony by atwai Louis Cloud U.S. v. Washington.

As a Yakama elder and fisherman, Tony assists with numerous Wa'ashat ceremonies throughout the usual and accustomed areas of the Fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama people. Tony's family harvests salmon from tribal fishing sites on the Klickitat River using ancient and present day fishing techniques. He is often called upon for his extensive knowledge pertaining to fishing, family lineage, land, resource, and oral history. He dedicates much time to family as well as passing information to the younger generations. 

Atwi(the late), Ruth Howard was born December 28, 1927, and grew up in White Swan Washington. She was raised to honor the foods and the land. Ruth's employment led her to became a Cultural and Language Teacher for the Yakama Nation Headstart and Yakama Language Program. She dedicated her life to the Yakama Tribal way of life as a Toppenish Creek Longhouse Food Gatherer and Yakama Nation Headstart teaching the history and language.  She advocated that children are the utmost important resource because they are all going to be our future leaders.

Atwi (the late), Russell Jim served as program manager of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation’s Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program. Mr. Jim grew up in the Yakama territory along the Yakima River. Mr. Jim’s focus had been preserving the earth’s natural resources while instilling tribal youth with a respect for their Yakama lands and traditions. In the 1970’s he was instrumental in giving direction to begin restoration of land and resources.

Atwi (the late), Johnson served as the Yakama Nation Cultural Resources Program Manager. The program oversees hundreds of archeological projects each year. He insured protection of Cultural Significance on the Yakama Reservation and the ceeded lands. His knowledge of the Yakama history and language supported the findings in the projects conducted.

Átwi (the late) David Sohappy Sr. was a strong advocate of Indian treaty rights. He was taught by his father to "never give up." Tucknashut and his family have a long history of being involved with fishing on the Columbia River. This includes carrying on the teaching to be providers and willing to share fish with others. When you provide for the people, the Creator will reward you.