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Klikitat Tribe

Klikitat Indians, Klickitat Tribe, Klickitat Indians (Chinookan: ‘beyond,’ with reference to the Cascade Mountains. ). A Shahaptian tribe whose former seat was at the headwaters of the Cowlitz, Lewis, White Salmon, and Klickitat rivers, north of Columbia River, in Klickitat and Skamania Counties, Washington. Their eastern neighbors were the Yakima, who speak a closely related language, and on the west they were met by various Salishan and Chinookan tribes. In 1805 Lewis and Clark reported them as wintering on Yakima and Klickitat rivers, and estimated their number at about 700. Between 1820 and 1830 the tribes of Willamette valley were visited by an epidemic of fever and greatly reduced in numbers. Taking advantage of their weakness, the Klikitat crossed the Columbia and forced their way as far south as the valley of the Umpqua. Their occupancy of this territory was temporary, however, and they were speedily compelled to retire to their old seat north of. the Columbia. The Klikitat were always active and enterprising traders, and from their favorable position became widely known as intermediaries between the coast tribes and those living east of the Cascade range. They joined in the Yakima treaty at Camp Stevens, Wash., June 9, 1855, by which they ceded their lands to the United States. They are now almost wholly on Yakima Reservation, Washington, where they have become so merged with related tribes that an accurate estimate of their number is impossible. Of the groups still recognized on that reservation the Topinish are probably their nearest relatives1 and may be regarded as a branch of the Klikitat, and the Taitinapam, speaking the same tongue, as another minor branch. One of the settlements of the Klikitat was Wiltkun.

Footnotes

  1. Mooney in 14th Rep. B. A. E., 738, 1896 

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