Yakama Indian Nation

The Yakama Service Unit is located on the Yakama Indian Reservation on the edge of the town of Toppenish. The Yakama Indian Reservation is comprised of 1,371,918 acres. Although the tribe ceded 10,828,800 acres of ancestral homeland to the U.S. government, they reserved the right to hunt, fish, access and use traditional cultural sites, gather traditional foods and medicines, and pasture in all of our “usual and accustomed places” within this ceded area. The Yakama Reservation is primarily agricultural on the valley floor, with range or grazing in the foothills, and forested to the west and south.
The Indian Health Service operates a 40,000 SF facility located near Toppenish. User population in 1998 was 11,654. The AAAHC accredited facility opened in 1990 and houses tribal and IHS operated programs offering:
Ambulatory primary care, public health, dental services, mental health, optometry, and audiology,
Internal medicine, women’s health care, elder care clinic/pediatrics and In-patient services at a local private hospital facility.

The White Swan Health Clinic (satellite)
The Tribe owns and operates the White Swan Health Clinic which is located in the rural community of White Swan, 20 miles west of Toppenish. Itinerant health and social services are offered through the maternal child health, nutrition, WIC, CHR and alcoholism programs. The Tribe also operates a satellite MCH center with 1,585 SF, in the Apas Goudy Housing Project in Wapato. The Tribe’s Contract Health Service Delivery Area (CHSDA) is Klickitat, Lewis, Skamania and Yakima Counties.

The JCAHO accredited facility opened in 1990 and houses tribal and IHS operated programs that offer a full range of ambulatory health and dental services. General medical services are available daily in addition to special services for well childcare, internal medicine, women’s health care and diabetes. The Tribe and IHS employ eight physicians, six dentists, one physician’s assistant, and thirteen mid-level practitioners who are RN’s, NP’s or PHN’s. The 2,700 SF clinic offers limited primary care on weekdays from 8 AM to 5 PM, and operates a 24 hour, 7 day a week ambulance service using EMT’s and First Responders The health center bills Medicaid and other third party payers.

The Health Center had 16,990 primary care and 33,860 other visits for a total of 55,288 patient visits in FY 1996. The White Swan Health Clinic had 3,990 primary care visits and 199 other visits for a total of 4,189 total patient visits in FY 1996. The Apas Goudy Housing Project in Wapato had 82 primary care visits and 13 other visits for a total of 95 patient visits for FY 1996. The enrolled tribal population is 8,870 and the Indian population living on or near the Reservation is 13,741. The registered population for health programs in the Yakama Service Unit is 14,820 and the active health clinic user population is 11,311. The leading causes of death are heart disease, motor vehicle accidents, malignant neoplasm, cirrhosis of the liver, and accidents other than motor vehicle. There were 11,837 Active users in 2002.
Fort Road Transit (Free Fare) provides transportation to the Yakama Reservation. The East Bound Route begins at the Northwest Community Action Center, Yakama Nation Agency, Indian Health Center, Yakama Legends Casino, Adams View Housing, Cougar Den, Yakama Forest Products, and returns West Bound back in reverse at these same stops. The Fort Road Transit Begins at 6am to 6pm, Monday thru Friday except on Holidays. This Transportation Service is Free to the Public.

The Behavioral Health program will provide a range of high quality professional and confidential services to the Native American population. The focus is to strengthen and empower individuals and families. The program is located at 217 South Toppenish Avenue in Toppenish, WA.

The Community Health Representative Program – is providing improvement on health status, instituting health promotion and disease prevention. Networking other health providers in coordination resources utilization through casefindings, referral, screening, assessments, follow-ups, and monitoring other essential direct services.
Community Nutrition – The goal of the program is to educate community members and provide information and tools needed to lead a Healthy Active Lifestyle. This will help reduce the number of Native Americans suffering from obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Comprehensive Community Alcoholism Program and Youth Treatment Program – The Yakama Nation Comprehensive Community Alcoholism Program seeks to promote the quality of life within the community through providing treatment and related services.
Contract Health Services Program – provides payment for medical services rendered to eligible patients who have fulfilled regulatory requirements at medical or hospital facilities other than those of the Indian Health Service Clinic. Contract Health Service is under the Deputy Director, Human Services Division and the Health, Employment, Welfare, Recreation, and Youth Activities Committee, Yakama Tribal Council.
Diabetes Program – Our mission is to prevent and manage diabetes and its complication in Native Americans and the Yakama Community by providing physical activity programs; nutrition services; financial assistance for shoes, eye glasses, and dentures; weight management services, and diabetes education and support services in a culturally sensitive environment.
Home Health Program – The Yakama Nation Home Health Program will promote elder and community health, safety, and independence by providing quality and culturally appropriate nursing services to elders, disabled adults, and children in need of nursing care in the home. The Yakama Nation Home Health Program will educate patients, families, and the community about health related issues to enable them to better care for themselves and their families in their home environment.


The Yakama Indian Reservation is a Native American reservation of the federally recognized tribe, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. The tribe is made up of Klikitat, Palus, Wallawalla, Wanapam, Wenatchi, Wishram, and Yakama people. The reservation is located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains in southern Washington state. According to the United States Census Bureau, the reservation covers 2,185.94 square miles and the population in 2000 was 31,799. It lies primarily in the Yakima and the northern edge of Klickitat counties. A small section crosses the southeast corner of Lewis County. The largest city on the reservation is Toppenish. The Yakama is a Native American tribe with nearly 10,851 members, inhabiting Washington state.
The Yakama Indian Reservation is comprised of 1,371,918 acres. Although the Yakamas ceded 10,828,800 acres of ancestral homeland to the U.S. government, they reserved their right to hunt, fish, access and use traditional cultural sites, gather traditional foods and medicines, pasture stock and have water in sufficient quantity and quality in all of their “usual and accustomed places” within this ceded area. Their right to fish is protected by treaties and has been re-affirmed in late 20th-century court cases such as United States v. Washington (the Boldt Decision, 1974) and United States v. Oregon (Sohappy v. Smith, 1969).

Scholars disagree on the origins of the name Yakama. The Sahaptin words, ‘E-yak-ma,’ means “a growing family”, and iyakima, means “pregnant ones”. Other scholars note the word, yákama, which means “black bear,” or ya-ki-ná, which means “runaway”. They have also been referred to as the Waptailnsim, “people of the narrow river” and Pa’kiut’lĕma, “people of the gap” which describes the tribe’s location along the Yakima River. The Yakama refer to themselves as the Mamachatpam. In 1805 or 1806, they encountered the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the confluence of the Yakima River and Columbia River. Not long thereafter, American and British trappers introduced ready-made goods to the Yakama. Homesteaders, miners and others would follow in increasing numbers.

To accommodate an insatiable white demand for land and resources, Washington territorial governor and Indian agent Isaac Stevens concluded the Yakama Treaty with the Yakama and 13 other tribes and bands on June 9, 1855. In signing the treaty, the Indians ceded 11.5 million acres to the United States. Although the Yakama themselves ceded 10,828,800 acres to the U.S. government, they reserved their right to fish, hunt and gather within the ceded area. The tribes and bands also agreed to move to a new reservation and receive federal benefits. The treaty stipulated two years to allow the tribes and bands to relocate on the new reservation, but Governor Stevens threw open Indian lands for white settlers less than two weeks after the treaty was signed.

A Yakama chief, Kamiakin, called upon the tribes to oppose the declaration. Some of the tribes joined forces under Kamiakin. The Indians managed to fight off U.S. soldiers for about three years in the uprising called the Yakima War (1855-1858). Other Indians in the territory rose up as well. In September 1858, at the Battle of Four Lakes near Spokane, the Indians were decisively defeated. Kamiakan escaped to Canada, but two dozen other leaders were apprehended and executed.

Most of the Yakama and other tribes then moved onto the reservation where numerous Sahaptin dialects, Chinookan, Salish and English languages converged. They led a harrowing existence. White agents ran the reservation intending to assimilate the internees into American society. A boarding school was established at Fort Simcoe on the reservation to educate and indoctrinate Indian children. Confinement on the reservation contributed to a social breakdown, ill health, alcoholism, and such other problems as high infant mortality. Agents also compelled Indians to grow crops on the reservation, but they farmed without enthusiasm. Many struggled to fish, hunt, and gather, but the old ways had been disrupted. The Yakama gradually lost access to fishing and hunting lands, as well as to areas with roots and berries; non-Indians had started farms and ranches on ceded Yakama land. Whites let their livestock feed on roots and berries. Irrigation projects destroyed Yakima River salmon runs and plowing ruined plant and animal habitat.

In accordance with a new federal policy in the late 1800s, government agents began to break up the reservation into 80-acre allotments for individual Indians, to encourage tillage. By 1914, 4,506 tribal members held 440,000 allotted acres, leaving 780,000 acres owned by the tribe as a whole.

Later in the 1900s, however, nearly all tillable acreage was purchased out of Indian hands. Such towns as Toppenish and Wapato were established on lands purchased from Indian allotments. Various entities threatened to confiscate Indian water. County, state and federal governments promoted development, including road and railroad construction, as well as the massive Wapato Irrigation Project. Whites sought through official channels to restrict the movement of Yakama people on the Columbia Plateau. In 1933, the Yakama organized as the Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation.

As a consequence of the Walla Walla Council and the Yakima War of 1855, the tribe was forced to cede much of their land and move onto their present reservation. The Treaty of 1855 identified the 14 confederated tribes and bands of the Yakama, including “Yakama (Lower Yakama or Yakama proper, autonym: Mámachatpam), Palouse (now written Palus, Yakama name: Pelúuspem), “Pisquouse (P’squosa, now Wenatchi), Wenatshapam (Yakama name: Winátshapam, now Wenatchi), Klikatat (Yakama name: Xwálxwaypam or L’ataxat), Klinquit (a Yakama subtribe), Kow-was-say-ee (Yakama name: Kkáasu-i or K’kasawi, Tenino subtribe), Li-ay-was (not identified), Skin-pah (Sk’in tribe or Sawpaw, also known as Fall Bridge and Rock Creek people or K’milláma, a Tenino subtribe; perhaps another Yakama name for the Umatilla, which were known as Rock Creek Indians), Wish-ham (Yakama name: Wíshχam, now Wishram, speaking Upper Chinook (Kiksht)), Shyiks (a Yakama subtribe), Ochechotes (Uchi’chol, a Tenino subtribe), Kah-milt-pay (Kahmiltpah, Q’míl-pa or Qamil’lma, perhaps a Klikatat subtribe), and Se-ap-cat (Si’apkat, perhaps a Kittitas (Upper Yakama) subtribe, Kittitas autonym: Pshwánapam), confederated tribes and bands of Indians, occupying lands hereinafter bounded and described and lying in Washington Territory, who for the purposes of this treaty are to be considered as one nation, under the name ‘Yakama’…”. (Treaty with the Yakama, 1855) The name was changed from Yakima to Yakama in 1994 to reflect the native pronunciation.

The Yakama Reservation is primarily agricultural on the valley floor, range or grazing in the foothills and forested to the west and south. The city of Toppenish is located east of the Yakama Indian Nation’s headquarters in the eastern part of the Reservation. The Yakama Reservation covers 1,573 square miles in the south-central Washington counties of Klickitat and Yakima. This territory offers many and varied food sources such as fishing, hunting, and gathering of seasonal wild roots and berries. The members of the Yakama Nation have historically depended on the Columbia River and the salmon for their sustenance. Traditional routes for subsistence were, and continue to be on the Columbia River, starting above Priest Rapids to the traditional fishing site on Celilo Falls, and extending west on the lower Columbia River beyond the Klickitat River tributary. The Yakama Reservation and its members are governed by the Yakama Nation Tribal Council. Self-government was re-established among the Yakamas in 1935.

Since the Indian Nation was made up of 14 bands and tribes, each group selected a representative, forming the modern tribal government. In 1947 a rule change provided for election by the General Council of half of the Tribal Council members every two years for four-year terms. All enrolled Yakamas become voting members of the General Council on their eighteenth birthday.


The reservation is over a million acres, apparently nearly half of Yakima County and part of Klickitat County. The 1,377,034-acre reservation is located in south central Washington, along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Local Communities include: Glenwood, Harrah, Parker, Satus, Tampico (part), Toppenish, Union Gap (part), Wapato, and White Swan.

Native Language

Language  Yakama is a northwestern dialect of Sahaptin, a Sahaptian language of the Plateau Penutian family. Since the late 20th century, some native speakers have argued to use the traditional Yakama name for this language, Ichishkíin Sínwit. The tribal Cultural Resources program wants to replace the word Sahaptin, which means “stranger in the land”. . In addition, the public schools and some adult education classes offer the Yakama dialect of Sahaptin.

The Yakamas actively preserve numerous elements of their heritage. A focal point is the all-purpose Cultural Heritage Center, which hosts numerous tribal projects to uphold traditional arts & crafts, history, language, literature and other topics. Powwows, celebrations and sporting events are an integral part of modern Yakama life throughout the year.


The Yakama have focused on self-sufficiency and economic independence since World War II. The federal government had acknowledged Yakama fishing rights in the treaty of 1855, but later, county and state officials opposed native fishing rights. As a result of legal battles culminating in the historic Boldt decision of 1974, the federal government reaffirmed Yakama fishing rights and made the tribe a co-manager of fishery resources with the state of Washington.

Tribal enterprises include: Heritage Inn Restaurant, Mt. Adams Furniture Factory, Production Orchards, Real Yakama Fruit Stand, Wapato Industrial Park, Yakama Forest Products, Yakama Nation Credit Enterprise, Yakama Nation Cultural Center, Yakama Nation Land Enterprise, Yakama Nation Legends Casino, and Yakama Nation RV Resort.

The tribe operates a fisheries program with about 40 employees. One of its projects is its collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy to use discontinued (radiation-free) settling ponds at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to condition about 500,000 juvenile Chinook salmon for release into the Columbia River.

The Yakama Indian Nation also co-manages the Columbia and eight other rivers with the state of Washington. The tribe has “usual and accustomed” fishing places in numerous locations in the Columbia River Basin, as well as some beyond the area. Salmon continue to be an important nutritional and symbolic commodity of the Yakama Nation.

The tribe manages 1,118,149 acres, which include 600,000 acres of timber. There also are 15,000 acres of cultivated land. In addition, the tribe irrigates 90,000 acres from the Wapato Project and leases farming and grazing acreage to non-Indians. The confederation maintains its own police force and tribal court.

The tribe fills approximately 600 full-time employment positions, and in the summer, up to 800 with such seasonal work as forestry.

Principal industries: agriculture, food processing, wood products, manufacturing.


The Yakama Indian Reservation is comprised of 1,371,918 acres. The Yakamas ceded 10,828,800 acres of ancestral homeland to the U.S. government. 

City: Toppenish, population 6,550, elevation 757.
County: Yakima, population 184,400, 7,546 Native American or 20% of nonwhite and 4% of total population. 4,271 square miles.).
County’s assessed value averages $1,623 an acre.
Rainfall 8.3, temperatures 36-62 (at Yakama)

Fast Info

Tribal website: https://www.yakama.com/
Administration Phone: (509) 865-5121
Clinic website: https://www.ihs.gov/Portland/healthcarefacilities/yakama/
Clinic Phone: (509) 865-2102

Contact Information

Yakama Indian Nation
Yakama Nation Tribal Health Facility
401 Buster Road
PO Box 151,
Toppenish WA 98948
Phone: 509-865-2102
Toll Free IHS: 1-800-574-5584
Toll Free CHS: 1-800-922-7006
Hours of Operation:
Monday – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Tuesday – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Wednesday – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Thursday – 12:45 PM to 5:00 PM
Friday – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday – Closed
Closed on All Federal Holidays
Fort Road Transit
Telephone: (509) 865 2112
Fax: (509) 865 2116
White Swan Ambulance and Health Clinic
Phone: (509) 874-2979
Behavioral Health
(509) 865-5121 Ext. 6200
Community Health Representative Program
(509) 865-5121 Ext. 4467
Community Nutrition
(509) 865-2102 Ext. 686
Comprehensive Community Alcoholism Program and Youth Treatment Program
(509) 865-5121 Ext. 4455
Contract Health Services
(509) 865-2102 Ext. 5
Diabetes Program
(509) 865-5121 Ext. 6757
Home Health Program
(509) 865-7965

Member Tribes

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.