Ka-Mi-Akin, last hero of the Yakimas

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Selection (page 38) from "Ka-mi-akin, last hero of the Yakimas" by A.J. Splawn (Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort, 1944; 2nd ed.).

Cultural Narrative: 

Ka-Mi-Akin, last hero of the Yakimas: Kamiakin was a peaceful, quiet and caring man, called upon by many of his friends and relatives for advice in situations. He was wary of the white man and his loose promises wondering what gave this race of man the authority to bend the Indians to their will other than their impossible numbers. Vivian M. Adams, Yakima

Traditional Knowledge: 


Kamiakin is remembered as the first Yakama to plant a garden at his home in Ahtanum, near what is now Tampico. He is also known to have brought the first herd of cattle to his home and was a great trader/owner of horses. Kamiakin also befriended the Catholic oblate priests, even giving them some of his land near his Tampico home, on which they built a small church, called Ahtanum Mission. Kamiakin was a headman to his band, even though there were older men he is the one who accepted the responsibilities of leadership, caring for those in need and counseling those with troubles. He was "a tall, large man, very dark...every inch a king," wrote Theodore Winthrop in his book "The Canoe and the Saddle. "Kamiakin was also an eloquent speaker when he felt the need to express himself. (many of the Indian leaders were known to give passionate, heart-felt speeches, eloquent when called upon to comment, but quiet in society). Here's some of Kamiakin's words admonishing his neighboring Plateau people to reject the treaty that was being negotiated in Walla Walla in May and June, 1855: "We wish to be left alone in the lands of our forefathers, whose bones lie in the sand hills and along the trails, but a pale-face stranger has come from a distant land and sends word to us that we must give up our country, as he wants it for the white man. Where can we go? There is no place left. Only a single mountain now separates us from the big salt water of the setting sun. Our fathers from the hunting grounds of the other world are looking down on us today. Let us not make them ashamed! My people, the Great Spirit has his eyes upon us. He will be angry if, like cowardly dogs, we give up our lands to the whites. Better to die like brave warriors on the battlefield, than live among our vanquishers, despised. Our young men and women would speedily become debauched by their fire water and we should perish as a race."(this excerpt was taken from "Kamiakin-The Last Hero of the Yakimas" by A.J. Splawn). Vivian M. Adams, Yakama