Yakama Nation

Mission Statement
The mission of the Yakama Nation Museum is to engage the public with culture and art of enduring quality, to facilitate dialog with diverse audiences, and to collect, preserve, and educate audiences for the enrichment of present and future generations

Our History, Our Legacy…Past to Present

The Yakama Nation Cultural Center opened on 9 June 1980, the same year that Mt. St. Helen’s erupted. We are one of the oldest Native American Museums in the United States. The 12,000 square foot exhibition hall is the result of years of hope, thought, and effort on the part of the Yakama people.

Visitor Policies
All group tours must make appointments. Please call our Event Coordinator, Deidre, at (509) 865-2800 x4740 or email us at [email protected].

We have listed simple rules for your convenience in advance of your visit.
– No photography
– No food or drink
– No recording devices

Heather C. Hull
Program Manager
(509) 865-2800 x4868
[email protected]

Liz Wahsise
Photo Registrar
(509) 865-2800 x4744
[email protected]

Rhiannon Bill
(509) 865-2800 x4730
[email protected]

To schedule a visit contact Deidre Maldonado (509) 865-2800 x4740 and [email protected]
Admission Prices ***Please pay at the CC Gift Shop before you enter the museum.***
Adults (19-54) $6.00
Seniors (55 & over) $4.00
Children (11-18) $4.00
Children (0-10) $2.00
Family Rate $15.00 (2 Adults & 2 children under 18)
Active Military $4.00
Guided Tour
(509) 865-2800 x4740
$25.00 tour fee is in addition to admission prices. Group Tour

Download Tour Form


Business Hours
Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday See Gift Shop hours
Closed The museum is closed on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), New Year’s Day (Jan. 1), July 4th (after 2pm), Sept 28th-30th, Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.
Early Closing The museum closes at 3 pm on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31).
Weather Closure During inclement weather, call the museum at (509-865-2800) after 10 am to confirm we are open.


Payments Accepted
Cards: American Express, Debit, Master Card, VISA, Discover
Checks: Business, Travelers, **Note: no personal checks**
Other: Cash, Purchase Orders [P.O.]
Payments can be mailed to:

Yakama Nation Museum
Attn: Event Coordinator
PO Box 151
Toppenish, WA 98948
Yakama Nation Museum
The Yakama Nation

The Yakama Reservation and ceded territories consists of Mt. Adams, the Yakima River, Medicine Valley, evergreen forests, meadows, Celilo Falls, Fort Simcoe, Columbia River and beautiful rolling hills. We have always honored and respected Mother Nature. She gives us our huckleberries, roots, choke cherries, deer and salmon.

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

Since time immemorial, the lands of Our People extended in all directions along the Cascade Mountain Range to the Columbia River and beyond. We consider it land given in trust by the Creator to us and a heritage to be held and protected for unborn generations.

The ancestors of today’s Yakamas were of different tribes and bands. Each was a distinct group led by a council of leaders, and each tribe or band spoke their own native language or dialect, and were closely related to other Columbia Basin Plateau Tribes. The following are the names of the tribes and bands that participated in or were named as part of the YAKAMA NATION.

Palouse, Pisquose, Yakama, Wenatchapam, Klinquit, Oche Chotes, Kow way saye ee, Sk’in-pah, Kah-miltpah, Klickitat, Wish ham , See ap Cat, Li ay was and Shyiks.

At the signing of the Treaty of 1855, which took place near present day Walla Walla, Washington, 14 tribes and Bands were confederated into the Yakama Nation. Leaders who signed the Treaty of 1855 were:

Kamaiakin, Sklom, Owhi, Te-cole-kun,La-hoom, Koo-lat-toose, Sch-noo-a, Me-ni-nock, Shee-ah-cotte, Sla-kish, Elit Palmer, Tuck-quille, Wish-och-knipits and Ka-loo-as.

Of the original 10.8 million acres of Yakama lands; 1.3 millions acres were set aside by the Treaty of 1855 as the Yakama Reservation. All of the remaining land was “ceded” to the United States Government for rights, privileges and guarantees to the Yakama people. Today the Yakama tribal members still exercise their rights to “the ceded area.”

In recognition of the original 14 Treaty Signers and officially established in 1944, a tribal council of 14 leaders is elected by the Yakama people and authorized to transact business for the Yakama Nation. This group is called the Tribal Council. A second group of three leaders who provide oversite, monitoring, and follow-up to Tribal Council is called General Council. Both the Tribal Council and the General Council are elected by enrolled tribal members over 18 years of age. A system of utilizing the traditional form of voting by raising of the right hand during election is still practiced today. By this process, the Yakama Nation is recognized as a sovereign traditional treaty tribe.

The first formal Yakama Indian Agency was established in 1859. “After hostilities with the United States military subsided”, the chosen location was the abandoned military base, Fort Simcoe, southwest of present day White Swan. This area, originally known as “Mool-mool”, had been a camp site for the summer and early fall seasons at the time when people did their hunting, root gathering, fishing and huckleberry picking. This seasonal food area on the Eel Trail was the hub of travel to the usual and accustomed fishing, hunting and gathering areas towards the Columbia River. Troops occupying the fort renamed the area “Simcoe Valley.” The name is derived from the Yakama word “Sim Quwe” pronounced “Sim Ku We”, which means “saddle back” or a dip between two hills like a saddle back. The Yakama people called the area Mool Mool because of the spot where the water bubbles out of the ground, making a sound similar to “Mool Mool.” The agency was thereafter moved approximately 30 miles east to present day Toppenish.

Our Name is…

NOTE: Resolution T-053-94 has recognized the new spelling of the word “YAKAMA.” “Whereas, for many years the symbolic spelling of our nation has been ‘YAKIMA’ with all of our documents, resolutions, letterheads, and nation’s flag, etc.”, and “whereas, in accordance with our Treaty negotiations, the confederacy of the 14 original tribes and bands shall be know as Confederated Tribes and Band of the Yakama Indian Nation.”

NOTE: Resolution T-172-99 has recognized the removal of ‘Indian’. “Whereas, by motion of the Yakama Tribal Council it has been determined that…the word “Indian” shall no longer be labeled to Yakama Nation. Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the Executive Board of the Yakama Tribal Council…hereby corrects the official Government to be recognized by its official name “Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.”

information is Courtesy of the Yakama Nation Museum

Big Research Requests
Research requests must be in writing on formal letterhead stationary from your institution of higher learning or business. The letter must include the following:

  1. Introduction – a little about you and a little about your project
  2. Identify what you want to study
  3. Identify partnerships and associates
  4. Identify if there is a timeline
  5. State your ultimate goal regarding the research

Small Research Requests
Please call or e-mail us a month before due date. Base fee is $10.00 and each additional hour is another $10.00.
We are digitizing our collection so research will deepen, broaden and sharpen knowledge of past tribal life.

Museum Processing Time

Your Request Letter will be under consideration by the Yakama Nation Museum staff.
The museums processing time is approximately one month, then a letter of approval or rejection will be sent to you.

Click here to see the Price Guide regarding research.

The Yakama Nation Museum’s Collection Office goal is to preserve and secure the items in the collection. They illustrate our great nation and culture, so a lot of time it put into inventorying them. We are looking to keep these piece for generations to come.


Each donation request will be reviewed to make sure it is in line with our mission statement. To be considered a donation a deed of gift must be signed. Please do NOT drop off any items. Once the deed of gift is signed, the museum takes ownership. [click here to see mission statement]

Types of Collections:

The Yakama Nation Museum holds archaeological, ethnographical, photographic, art, media, and paper collections.

We welcome visitors of all ages to the Yakama Nation Museum.
Come in and pick up a two page handout as you start to the right.
This is a tour taken at your own pace.Time Schedule: 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
Please remember to add time to your visit to see the Cultural Center Gift Shop, and other parts of the Cultural Center campus.


Schedule Your Visit

  • A group needs to schedule date and time with the Tour Coordinator
  • We accept reservations for tours throughout the year
  • Guided tours schedule:
     Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
  • Arrangements at least 1 weeks in advance

Guided Tour

  • We provide a docent who will share information about the exhibits and Yakama Nation. You will have opportunities for questions.
  • Chaperone(s): To ensure your group/school tour has a positive experience we ask that there be one adult chaperone for every 10 children and teens.
  • Bus Parking: There is plenty of bus parking at the North end of the campus. PLEASE park in the lines. From the bus parking area, please walk up the middle of campus to the YN CC Gift Shop (there is a breeze way door on the East end of the Winter Lodge).
  • Please remember to add time to your visit to see the Cultural Center Gift Shop, and other parts of the Cultural Center campus.
Available to: 2nd grade and up
Time Schedule: 45 minutes to 60 minutes
Tour Guide Fee: $25.00 in addition to the individual admission prices

Tour Guide Request Form

The great dioramas and exhibits of the museum tell the story of the Yakama People. We are the only museum of this kind. Through a blend of dramatic visual and listening experiences you will be taken from time immemorial, through the world of our ancestors, and bring you to the present.

Museum Features

  • Life size dwellings of the Plateau People
  • Unique dioramas and exhibits that tell the story of the Yakama people
  • Special sound effects, narratives and music
  • Guided tours by appointment Monday – Friday
  • Self tours any time


Coming Soon.



Head Chief
Original signer of the Treaty of 1855

Original signer of the Treaty of 1855

Watson Tutus
Tribal Chairman

He testified to the Senate Subcommittee on Civil functions in protest of the Dalles Dam which ultimately destroyed Celilo Falls, a prime hub for fishing and trade along the Columbia River. His testimony is attached here.

Nipo Strongheart
Yakama descendant
It was his initial donation that was the catalyst for the development of the Yakama Nation’s Museum and Cultural Heritage Center.