CWU News

Yakama Woman's Promise to Her Elders Sheds Light on Forgotten Pacific Northwest War

CWU Board of Trustee member Emily Washines was 18 years old when she was crowned Miss National Congress of American Indians. Yakama tribal councilmembers and elders sung a warrior song for her and then extracted a promise.

"After I got a pageant title, [they said] we want to talk to you about who Yakama women are," Washines said. "I thought, 'Oh gosh. There is going to come cooking lessons or something.'"

But tribal leaders had something else in mind. They wanted Washines to remember a message about a little-known war that wracked the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s. 

"They said Yakama women fought in the Yakama War," Washines, now 37, recalled. "I remarked immediately, 'I promised to carry that and to know that and to share that.'"

The impacts of that war still reverberate today. Now Washines is seeking descendants of the federal troops and militia who fought her ancestors more than a century ago. She and they hope to make a statement about healing, dialogue and remembrance by coming together.

Read the complete story on The Northwest News Network,