Fishery Politics with the Yakima Reservation Peoples: 1890s

Chilluckittequw: In what was to become Skamania County, the first residents called themselves Chilluckittequw (Ruby and Brown) and they lived along the rivers that drained into the Columbia between Beacon Rock and about Hood River. They spoke a language later classified as the Upper Division of Chinookan and could communicate with other tribes that lived along the Columbia from The Dalles to the mouth at the Pacific. Explorers Lewis and Clark (1805) called them the Smock-shops and other observers dubbed them Sahellellah, Shahala, Ninuhltidihs, and Kwikwuilits. American settlers named them the Cascades. (


The Cascades/Watlala peoples of the middle Columbia River lived in roughly three main communities in the 1850s. Those Cascades on the south side of the river at Cascade Rapids; those on the north bank of the river at what is now Stevenson, Skamania County; and those at Dog River, now called Hood River, the descendants now called Hood River Wasco. The Cascades were ethnographically all one larger tribe. They were direct neighbors of one another and well interrelated. The Cascades people would habitually live through the Spring, Summer, and Fall at their villages at the Cascades and may have in the past traded sides and locations of the villages. The villages were strung out along the river from Sandy River to White Salmon on both sides of the river and were mapped by Lewis and Clark and later ethnographers. At the time of the Middle Oregon Treaty of 1855 (Yakima, Wiahram, Wasco, Deschutes, and Cascades), the Yakima claimed the Cascades on the north bank as their people, even though the chief at Hood River on the north bank Chief Wallachin refused to acknowledge this, and instead refused to sign the treaty because he did not like the Wasco people. Wallachin did not want to remove to any reservation at all.

Lewis and Clark’s map of the vicinity of the Cascades, October 30, 1805, Bieneke Digital Collections, Yale University.

Later the Hood River Cascades did move to Warm Springs, and some Cascades on the North Bank integrated with the Wishrams and Klickitats at White Salmon Reservation and removed to Yakima (Fort Simco) by 1859. A good number of Cascades were also integrating with the white people and took important roles in the industries along the Columbia. These Cascades, or part Cascades, never removed and simply assimilated with the new American culture. And, as I have argued elsewhere, some Cascades families, likely those at Cascades Rapids, did remove to Grand Ronde. The Cascades had a winter village at possibly Government Island, near Fort Vancouver, and this was very close to the Clackamas/Multnomah region, and there were kinships with the Clackamas. As well, three of the last Clackamas leaders at three villages near Willamette Falls were sons of Chiefs of the Cascades.

Ethnographically and culturally, the Cascades were one tribe. When the Americans came the Cascades area was divided into three administrative areas, and so the three principal culture areas were likely created with the creation and imposition of Indian Superintendency administrative districts on the area.

After the establishment of the Eastern Superintendency, which was variously managed by the Washington Territory Indian Superintendent and the Oregon Territory Indian Superintendent, the Cascades peoples on the north side of the river were treated differently from those on the south side. The tribes on the south side, were expected to remove to reservations, Grand Ronde and Warm Springs, mainly as part of Treaties (Middle Oregon 1855, Willamette Valley 1855), because of and following the Cascades Massacre of March 3, 1856, as a necessity to keep the peace on the Columbia. The Tribes on the north side were generally ignored for a time, as they seemed peaceful, while Wallachin refused to sign the treaty of middle Oregon. The north side in this vicinity was also very lightly settled by whites, so there was less chance of conflict with whites. In fact, Skamania County at the Columbia River was settled much later than other areas, and so lightly settled up into the 1880s.

The main differences between the Treaty of Middle Oregon and the Willamette Valley Treaty, is fishing, hunting, and gathering rights. The Willamette Valley treaty did not name these rights for the signatory tribes, while the Middle Oregon Treaty does. The naming of these rights likely enabled by Isaac Stevenson, the first governor and Indian Superintendent of the Washington Territory, who, along with Joel Palmer, the Indian Superintendent for the Oregon Territory. Palmer did not include these named resource gathering rights in the Willamette Valley Treaty. The tribes themselves may have been a big factor in the Treaty of Middle Oregon, as the tribes in this treaty all had prominent fisheries on the Columbia and wanted to maintain these places and practices. The fisheries were not just culturally valuable, not only a part of the culture for over 10,000 years, but were also proving to have value in the new economy being brought to Oregon by the Americans. The tribes saw this and wanted to maintain their economic dominance of salmon fisheries on the Columbia.

Lewis and Clark’s map of Celilo Falls, October 22, 1805, Bieneke Digital collections, Yale University

This is an important point because while mostly we hear how fishing is part of the culture of the tribes, it also has significant economic value, which was a resource which the new American settlers wanted to get control and ownership of. In fact, most of the impetus for colonization of the West is an economic discussion, about the removal of the tribes from their lands and resources, and giving the land and resources to white American Christians who could “properly use and develop the land and resources.” Competition by tribes in the path of American development, really a part of their manifest destiny, was heavily discouraged, and tribal peoples were murdered and removed to make way for American dominance. These removals were supported by the Federal Government in order to “keep the peace” and if the tribes were too vengeful and violent in the face of mounting American settlement, the Army would be called in to punish, attack, subdue and remove the “savage” Indian tribes. At the heart of most of the conflicts like this was American settlement and the protection of the American settlers’ rights to make wealth unimpeded by tribal savages. Some extreme examples of this include, the Rogue River Indian war (gold mining and settlement); the Chetko-Tolowa conflicts (gold mining, settlement, port town development); the Nez Perce War (gold mining and settlement) for a few examples.

Yakima Ceded lands, cultural lands, Reservation, Cascades are in the Wind River-White Salmon Tract

The Yakima Fishery

Interestingly, today the Tribal fisheries of the Columbia Gorge are well compensated by the Federal government to four tribes who lost fisheries or had impacts to fisheries with the building of dams on the Columbia in the 20th century. Billions of dollars are allocated to the Warm Springs, Yakima, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes, as per their agreements with the United States. Even so, the compensation for the loss of the fisheries will never replace the fisheries and nearly all members of the tribes would rather have the fisheries returned, rather than take the money. But this compensation is a new development, a part of 20th-century Indian policy and law. In the 19th century, for decades following the signing and ratification of the treaties, even the Treaty of Middle Oregon, there was little protection for tribal fishing on the Columbia even though the language of the treaty suggests this directly.

“the exclusive right of taking fish in the streams running through and bordering said reservation is hereby secured to said Indians; and at all other usual and accustomed stations, in common with citizens, of the United States, and of erecting suitable houses for curing the same; also the privilege of hunting, gathering roots and berries, and pasturing their stock on unclaimed lands, in common with citizens, is secured to them. And provided, also, That if any band or bands of Indians, residing in and claiming any portion or portions of the country in this article, shall not accede to the terms of this treaty, then the bands becoming parties hereunto agree to receive such part of the several and other payments herein named as a consideration for the entire country described as aforesaid as shall be in the proportion that their aggregate number may have to the whole number of Indians residing in and claiming the entire country aforesaid, as consideration and payment in full for the tracts in said country claimed by them. And provided, also, That where substantial improvements have been made by any members of the bands being parties to this treaty, who are compelled to abandon them in consequence of said treaty, the same shall be valued, under the direction of the President of the United States, and payment made therefor; or, in lieu of said payment, improvements of equal extent and value at their option shall be made for them on the tracts assigned to each respectively.” (Article 1, Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon 1855)

At the Yakima Reservation from the ratification of the treaty in 1859 into the 1890s, fishing rights were not assured. Numerous annual reports suggest that the Yakima Tribes did not have an adequate fishery on the reservation, and even their rights to fish on the Columbia were not secured, despite the language of their treaty.

Annual report 1891- The Indians complain very bitterly that they have been and are being treated unjustly by the Government in regard to their fishing grounds, especially at Tumwater fishery. The Indian still claim this as their fishing ground under the treaty, but on account of the trails being fenced and fish wheels being placed in the Columbia River, they are practically prevented from catching any fish. I quote the following from a report of Deputy Special Indian Agent Thomas S. Lang,  1889, in which he says; There is no doubt that these land jobbers intend to worry the Indians out of all rights they have in the fisheries, and to my certain knowledge have annoyed and molested their free enjoyment of their treaty rights under the decree of the court of Washington Territory in their favor, and intend to drive them off from the enjoyment of this great privilege. What was predicted in that report has come to pass, and very bitter if not hostile feeling exists among all the Indians in regard to this matter.  (Annual Report of COIA 1891 p 462)


Annual report of the COIA 1894- The disputed fishery rights of the Indians along the Columbia has given me a vast amount of trouble. They have had a great many councils during the past year, and urged the inspector, the special agent, and myself to use every effort to restore to them their accustomed fishery. During the month of May I visited the Tum Water and Wishram fisheries on the Columbia River, where Indians have fished from time immemorial. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Yakima Reservation Washington, 1894, p326)


Annual report of COIA 1895- Wisham fisheries on the Columbia River- From time immemorial the Indians have been accustomed to fish in the Columbia River; but inch by inch they have been forced back by the whites from the best fishing grounds and not allowed to fish with the whites in common as provided in the treaty concluded June 9, 1855 (12 Stats,. 951). They have borne this denial with patience but urged that they be restored to their ancestral and treaty rights. Agents have twice been sent to investigate and ascertain the best method of settling the matter. Both agents reported that it was the duty of the Government to protect the Indians in their treaty rights to their valuable fisheries, and recommended that the treaty rights to their valuable fisheries, and recommended that the attention of the United States district attorneys for Oregon and Washington be called to the existing state of affairs, in order that proceedings might be instituted in the Federal courts looking to the protection of the Indians, and with a view of enjoining encroaching parties from further interferences with them….The Indians have used the fisheries in question as their chief means of subsistence from time immemorial. Should they be deprived of their rights their main source of support would be gone. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, D.M. Browning, Commissioner (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1895, 108-109)

Yakima Tribal Council complaints were heard by the Indian Agent Jay Lynch in 1892, who pointed out to his superiors, that the Yakima treaty guaranteed fishing rights, yet they did not have any rights at that time on the Columbia. A court case in 1887 had given Americans the upper hand in fishing the Columbia and several companies had installed fish wheels and worked to eliminate Native fisheries. The Agent was fired in 1893 for unspecified reasons, but it’s clear that he had raised the Indian rights issue in an official report, and for some reason, this was not something the Federal government wanted to give the tribes.

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1896- The fishery rights of these Indians and the stipulations of their treaty were brought before and defined by the supreme court of Washington Territory January 25, 1887, in the case of the United States v. Frank Taylor, reported in the Pacific Recorder, volume 13, page 333. Under that decisions the Indians have the right to use and enjoy their fisheries as they had done before the conclusion of the treaty of 1855; and the court held that where a person obtained, under an act of Congress approved subsequently to the treaty, a patent to land abutting upon the Tumwater fisheries and erected and maintained thereon a fence which obstructed the approach to the fishery which had been reserved by treaty to Indians, equity would interfere by an injunction and cause the removal of the obstruction; and that persons so obtaining patents hold such lands encumbered and charged with such easements and rights…. The decision was a victory for the Indians, reversing the judgment of the district court, which had been against them; but Agent Erwin Yakima Agency, Wash., stated in his report of February 2. 1895, that although the supreme court of Washington Territory remanded the case for further proceeding, in accordance with the stipulations contained in the decree, it was never prosecuted beyond that point, as he was informed… Since the decision of 1887 was rendered, the Winans Bros. and the Seufert Bros., and others have erected fish wheels in the Columbia River, denied the Indians the right to fish therein, and obstructed their ingress and egress there. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1896, 98-100)

By 1892 a proposed solution was being worked on by regular and special Indian Agents for a land swap. A portion of land on the Yakima Reservation which had proved useless as a fishery, was by 1896 traded for the Wenatchee fishery, after a survey occurred

Annual report of the COIA 1894- During the month of November Col. John Lane, special U.S. Indian Agent, and myself were appointed as a commission to buy what is known as the Wenatshapam fishery, a body of land comprising 23,000 acres upon the Wenatchee River. After many councils and much deliberation, we succeeded in making the purchase. The Indians recognized the fact that this was not the proper place for a fishery. It had not been used for such and was too far up the Wenatchee River for salmon. The sale of this property has given perfect satisfaction to the Wenatchapam Indians who live in that vicinity, and a large majority of the Indians upon this reservation. There is however, a dissatisfied element who are opposed to selling the white men any more of their land. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Yakima Reservation Washington, 1894, p326)

The land swap was made law by a Presidential Executive order of Benjamin Harrison, November 28, 1892,

Yakima reservation fishery- By Executive Order, November 19, 1892, setting a tract of land for a fishery, as provided by article 10, United States treaty with Yakima, 1855, I have to report: The survey of this tract has not as yet been made, although I am informed the contract for the survey has been let. I am led to believe that if the matter were properly presented to the Indians they would be willing to dispose of this tract of land containing about 2,300 acres, at a fair and reasonable price. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Yakima Reservation Washington, 1893, p 340)

Such was the solution worked out by the Yakima Tribal Council working with what appears to be sympathetic Indian agents. This was not at all the case with most Indian Agents, and Jay Lynch may deserve recognition for raising the alarm officially, for which he lost his job.

The Cascades and Mary Stooquin

The story now moves to the situation of one family of the Cascades tribe. Mary Stooquin, a woman with many names, from at least three husbands, her most common used name is Kaliah, and she was a daughter of Chief Tumulth and witnessed the Cascades Attack in 1856. Mary’s second husband was Johnny Stooquin, a treaty signer and member of the Wishram tribe. Mary moved to the Wishram fishery for a time with Johnny. They were subsequently removed to the Yakima Reservation. In the period from the 1850s to 1880s details of their life are sparse.  But both Mary and her half-sister Virginia Miller were at Yakima and took Yakima allotments. These allotments were awarded by 1891 at most reservations, once surveys were completed.

Mary Stooquin (Kalliah) and daughter, Abbie Lucy Gerand (Weiser) Reynolds Estabrook (thanks to a good source)

       Mary Stooquin (Willamutit) relinquished Yakima A1-2260 in favor of Vancouver A1-11, under name of Mary Wilwyitit, was a full blood Cascade Indian who dies on December 21, 1906. Fee patent was issued covering Vancouver A1-11. Sister Abbie Lucy Stooquin Reynolds Estabrook is allotted and enrolled in the Yakima tribe as ½ Cascade, ¼ Warm Springs, ¼ non-Indian. (Affidavit of Don Umtuch and Kiutus Jim 1954)

Virginia Miller in Curtis photo

     Virginia Miller, Yakima Allottee no 3459, died July 20, 1927.  Tomalk the father of Virginia Miller, Chief of the Cascades, had four wives, Wah dei gah was mother of Virginian Miller. John Tomalk brother of Virginia, Joe Tomalk brother, Isabelle Tomalk sister and mother of Georgiana, Sally Half-sister to Virginia mother of Michel Martineau- married to Martha Brown, -Mary Henry (Stiquim) half sister of Virginia- daughters Amanda E. Williams and Abbie Reynolds Estabrook , (Affidavit of Georgiana Miller Jackson 1932)

Mary Stooquin, with Johnny, relinquished her allotment at Yakima, in favor of an off-reservation allotment on the Columbia. The site was close to if not at a former Cascade Indian village near what is now Stevenson, Skamania County, Washington. The timing of their move to the Columbia is interesting, on the tail of the 1887 court case giving greater rights to people owning land on the Columbia. It is likely that she (perhaps this was a Cascade group effort) devised this method of returning to the Columbia and gaining fishing rights again, in a political and economic climate which was against Indians fishing in the Columbia fisheries. In addition, the Cascades peoples at Yakima were a minority, and there was some disaffection between them and the true Yakima peoples on the reservation. This disaffection appears again in the 1950s when the Cascades are disallowed from inheriting land and gaining membership at the Yakima Reservation. The reasoning in the 1950s is, that their descendants are not living on the Reservation, which is in part true because Kalliah moved to the Columbia.

The second matter involving Mary Stooquin is the Fishery agreement that was given to the Cascades people by the State of Washington.

Quiuck Miller is Virginia Miller, and Kalliah Tomult is Mary Stooquin. This list is transcribed in this manner to keep the names legible and in order.


Adult members of the Cascade Tribe of band of Indians, laborers and fisherman by occupation, of Skamania county, State of Washington, parties of the first part, and Oscar Foote of the City of Washington, District of Columbia, party of the second part witnesseth, that the parties of the first part in consideration that the party in the second part shall secure to them, for their sole use and benefit the Lands and Fisheries embraced within the following described bounds, vix.:

Beginning at a point in the channel of the Columbia River opposite Wind Mountain, thence down the channel of said river to a point opposite Castle Rock, known to the Indians as Che-che-ap-tan; dividing the waters of the little White Salmon and Wind River; thence along said ridge to the Channel of the Columbia River opposite Wind Mountain, the place of beginning; all in Skamania County. Washington, and that in case they are permanently deprived of said Fishing rights and lands of which they are now dispossessed by the encroachment of settlers and others, then to secure for them a certain indemnity in money from the general government in lieu thereof, they the parties of the first part are to pay to the party of the second part a fee of one-third (1/3) of all money received from the general government as an indemnity, or compensation equal to one-third (1/3) the value of the land within  the railroad limits, and one-third (1/3) the value of the aforesaid fisheries at a fair valuation.

It is expressly understood between the parties to their agreement that the party of the second part is to have three years in which to secure the rights and indemnities heretofore mentioned.

certified by N.D. Bloomfield, Judge of the Superior Court of Skamania County.

The above agreement is quite an anomaly for this time period. Generally, the states had nothing to do with the tribes, as tribal people were completely under the supervision of the federal government. But here we see a fishing agreement with a tribe, The Cascades Tribe, by the State of Washington.

signatures of the agreement

The agreement is perplexing until we think about the context in which this is happening. Essentially the tribes did not have fishing rights within the State of Washington, and their fishing on the Yakima Reservation up to 1896 was not adequate for their use. So the Cascades devised with the State of Washington a special agreement for a fishery. Their location in Skamania County would not impede white people from doing what they wanted and so they were not seen as a threat to the fish wheel operators. Then there was likely some sympathy on the part of the state for their cause of regaining a fishery at the Cascades. A report by Indian Agent Erwin at Yakima states that there was indeed some sympathy for treaty rights at the state level.

I am now in receipt, by Department reference, of a communication dated March 23, 1896, from the Attorney-General [of Washington state], stating, among other things, that the treaty of 1855 with these Indians established a kind of servitude in the ceded lands in the nature of a right of temporary injunction in favor of a tribe or tribes which had at least the right of occupancy in the lands; that, the treaty being supreme laws of the land, the State of Washington, while the owner of shore lands, with power to sell them, cannot deprive the Indians by law, patent, or otherwise of this right; that he has no doubt that the courts would enjoin all persons interfering with the exercise of the right; that a suit or suits for injunction could be instituted against past or future purchasers of  land which includes places where Indians are accustomed to fish, and that all such purchasers could be forbidden to interfere with the Indians, and that the purchasers themselves would doubtless prevent others from so interfering. The Attorney-General then suggested that it might be well to have the attention of the government of Washington called to the matter, with a view to securing legislation which would protect the Indians in the enjoyment of their rights. In view of all these facts in the case, I recommend, April 2, 1896, that the attention of the governor of the State of Washington be called thereto, with request that the legislature of that state be asked to enact such legislation as would practically protect the Indians in the free enjoyment of their fishery rights. Very Respectfully, your obedient servant, D.M. Browning, Commissioner, (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1896, 98-100)

This back-channel notation by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs suggests that the State acknowledges that treaty rights exist, that they preceded the rights of the fishing wheel operators, and that the state needs to create special rights for tribes within the state. It is likely that the Attorney General is aware of the agreement with the Cascades Tribe and sees it as a success and is suggesting that the same agreement become law in the state for all tribes.

Additional details of the agreement need to be worked out. Files of the state of Washington would be helpful, especially those managing the fisheries, as well as the Governor files about this issue. It is unclear here whether the agreement is still in force. This would be a legal question to forward to the state.

Citizens in the area, especially at Hood River, where the majority of the population was, were incensed with this movement of the Cascades Tribe back to the Columbia,

section of the editorial.

…Chapman gathered the Indians known as the Cascades tribe at the Cascades and obtained from them the agreement appended, each Indian was given a copy of the agreement and cautioned to keep the matter secret. The agreement speaks for itself, and it suggests some very ugly things. If these Indians are entitled to anything from the government they are entitled to it without cost, and certainly without giving up one-third of the value of the tract to Oscar Foote or anyone else. that the whole matter is a gigantic fraud is self-evident. The tract asked by Captain Coe to be set aside would be not to exceed ten miles square, and would contain all the Indians need. The tract proposed to be captured by Oscar Foote is an unknown country to the Indians….(Hood River Glacier, OR, Nov. 21, 1891)

By the 1890s, the present population of Americans would be well into their second generation of settlement. Many of these settlers were newly arrived and really knew nothing about the tribes, their culture or original locations. Most people in this situation would see the Cascades as invaders into their area, as unwelcome usurpers of their rights to fisheries and lands. The opposition went on for a few months as the editorial was posted at least twice. In addition, their previous villages, at prime locations on the Columbia, would be taken over settled upon and the Indians would not be welcomed back.

The Cascades Indians were one of the fishery tribes that needed to return to the Columbia. They found a way to get the rights that were being denied other tribes on reservations and under ratified treaties, outside of the regular practice of working with federal agents exclusively. Their advantage in 1891 was that they proposed to inhabit a thinly populated area which was just seeing growth in the 1880s. Additional details of the agreement; who originally proposed it and how they convinced the official of the state to go forward with it; how long people took advantage of it and whether it is still a viable agreement, need to be understood better.  As well, maps of off-reservation allotments in Skamania County would help us understand how many Cascades may have returned to the Columbia in the same manner.

This story is a small part of a larger story about the tribes regaining fishery rights on the Columbia. I have not looked yet at whether the Wenatchee fishery was successful or not, and how the state found a way to satisfy the treaty. The story of the Cascades Tribes is a rare story which needs further development.


References in-text

2 thoughts on “Fishery Politics with the Yakima Reservation Peoples: 1890s

  1. I enjoy reading your posts. The picture above is Mary Tumulth Stooquin and her daughter, Abbie Lucy Gerand (Weiser) Reynolds Estabrook. Please edit this blog to reflect the true identification. If you need further confirmation, just ask any of us–Amanda’s descendants or Abbie’s descendants. We are easy to find.

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