What became of the Wenatchi Indian Tribe?
Growing up in Bremerton, I regularly rode the ferry to Seattle. One of the boats I remember riding was the “MV Wenatchee”.
I can recall this particular ferry having old vintage pics, on display of Wenatchee’s ag workers. Lots of pics of described what life was like on old time Wenatchee city streets. I can remember the array of wonderful apple box art. The ferry also had pictures of the Wenatchi Indians who called our Wenatchee Valley home. These historic pictures were my first exposure to Wenatchee.
Zoom forward to today.
I sometimes wonder what happened to the Wenatchi Indians? I found a few resources on the subject.
The results I found are very sobering.
The Wenatchi people's tribal name originates from Yakama-Sahaptin. A very important area for the Wenatchi's was the Wenatchapam Fishery. This was a significant cultural site located in Wenatchee National Forest, near Leavenworth.
The fishery was designated a reservation site in the Yakama treaty of 1855.
Despite this, newly arrived settlers/pioneers contested the Wenatchi claim to the land, and a railway company was approved to build through the reserved land. In 1893, a survey was conducted, but a federal agent aligned with the settlers and railway company intervened in the process and falsely claimed the Wenatchi had sold their land rights. The permanent relocation of the Wenatchi's happened in the 1910s decade. Following the expulsion of his people, Chief John Harmelt unsuccessfully lobbied for federal protection of Wenatchi fishing rights.
Today, many of the Wenatchi descendants still live on the Colville Reservation. A handful of others live on the Yakima Indian Reservation.
To learn more on the history of the Wenatchi People, read: Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation - A Brief History
U.S. vs. Tribes of Colville Indians,
Storymaps: The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Passage of Peace Teepees Honor Native Americans