The People and the Forest

The Yakama People have interacted with forests since time immemorial. Often there are discussions around what a forest looked like pre-human or what a healthy ecosystem looks like. These are excellent questions; however, there is a need to acknowledge a distinct difference in the timeline being referenced by different people asking these questions. For example, most non-Indian people are asking these questions with an assumed timeline of what the forest and landscape looked like less than 500 years ago. This may be confounding to someone exposed to thousands of years of traditional knowledge regarding the forest and the functions of a landscape passed down through their culture and experiences.

  • Providing a level of economy through jobs in milling (YFP), logging and transportation.
  • Providing highly technical skilled jobs managing our forest including professional and technical foresters and other natural resource disciplines.
  • Providing critical habitat for our fisheries resource and habitat for the salmon to return each year to ancestral rivers to spawn providing habitat for big game such as the deer and elk the Yakamas use for subsistence and ceremonial purposes.
  • Offering cultural medicines and healing stories so vital to maintain our traditional ways of life,
  • Building cultural resilience, strong leaders, identity though stewardship, active management and the shared lessons of multiple generations with other peoples,
  • Re-connection with natural resources, Mother earth, and the traditional ecologic knowledge of Indigenous science.
  • Offering an understanding of where our foods come from, how we are intertwined with nature, and how mental choices of what we put in our bodies matters.
  • Encouraging reciprocity and the gift of giving between the earth and humans that comes with caring for the environment.
  • Improving individual, family, and community wellness through enhancing our communities through traditional foods and spiritual tranquility.