Three Yakima Women, "Three Wild Roses of the Yakima," 3 cops, 1917


A photo of three women in the foreground with a horse in the background (1917).

Cultural Narrative: 

Three Yakima Women, "Three Wild Roses of the Yakima," 1917: These ladies seem to be enjoying their visit with each other. The style of dress as seen on these "roses" gives us an idea of the time. The women wear the attire changed from the traditional hide dress.

In this image they now wear their cotton wing dresses. I believe this dress is a design that identifies a Plateau woman as being from the Plateau tribes, just as her basket hat would also lead others to realize she is from the Plateau cultures of the Northwest. Silky scarfs, usually of darker colors replaced the basket hat which used to be worn daily when doing chores and the hat became both sacred as well a secular. This means the hat became more ceremonial that it had previously been but still served its original utilitarian purposes. The plaid lap robes or blankets became an item of clothing by being turned into a shawl.

Buckboards became a favored form of hauling the items deemed necessary for work and travel. Many Plateau families began to use them instead of the old-style travois dragged behind a horse. Horses were still used to transport packs as well as a person, but dogs were not packed to carry goods the way they were formerly used. Roads became less rough, easier for the wagons to negotiate, but still like a more like a well-used path. Some shortcut trails were abandoned to use these path-roads instead.

Notice the nice leather saddle some lucky person has acquired. Someone must be wealthy! But this saddle has only one horn to strap a basket or root bag or baby-board onto. Traditional saddles were made of a carved wooden frame covered by stretched rawhide with a tall "horn" in front and a tall "horn" in back and a large "hook" on each horn from which to dangle a baby in its board or storage bags. Vivian M. Adams, Yakama

Traditional Knowledge: 


Special ceremonial clothing made from various kinds of hides were still made but used only at certain times. Plateau women even began to be "dressed" in the dark, cotton wing dresses and dark head scarfs when in mourning. This helped identify her situation and exclusion from participating in some activities deemed inappropriate for her while she grieved. After a certain amount of time had passed, a memorial for the deceased was held and the woman would be "dressed" to "rejoin" her community as a participant. Vivian M. Adams, Yakama

Daily Life

Earlier dresses were made of flour sacks or cotton fabric, a comfortable, cooler mode of clothing and easier to make. The wing dress has an underslip with long sleeves and the over dress with the open-bottom 3/4 sleeve. During these earlier days many patterns didn't match and wing dresses were a mix of designs.

Later shawls began to be decorated with intricate embroidery or linear beadwork. Blankets in colorful complicated geometric designs made by the Pendleton Woolen Factory, later became very popular for all Indian family members. The decorated shawls could be made from a large piece of fabric but had to have a fringe like the lap robe. So a woven diamond pattern fringe made of long silky strings would be tied onto the shawl edges. Fitting manufactured materials into their culture seemed a natural thing to for the Plateau people to do.

It was just a couple decades or so before 1917 this that utility bags began to be made smaller and used as clothing accessories: the cornhusk bag turned into a beaded handbag. The large storage containers were still being made but the natural material gathering sites were becoming more difficult to find and access because of private property issues. So the women had to satisfy themselves that the manufactured materials were less labor intensive. Vivian M. Adams, Yakama