False Promises: The Lost Land of the Wenatchi
"Our Wenatchi Reservation was taken from us in 1894. Our hunting and fishing rights were also taken at that time, against our wishes. Many of our tribesmen are scattered in various parts of the State of Washington where the land is poor...We, the Wenatchi Indians, wish to have our fishing and hunting rights restored to us in the Wenatchee Valley and forests." (Chief John Harmelt, 1933)
This film makes an impassioned plea for the return of the land that was taken from the Wanatchi Indians of Washington State. For generations they lived and fished on their land. In 1855, they were offered a reservation under the terms of the Yakama Treaty. The US failed to honor that treaty as well as others which were made with the tribe.
Historian E. Richard Hart has been working in Indian affairs for more than 30 years. He knows of no other case where a tribe was promised fishing rights in a ratified treaty and again in a ratified agreement, and still does not have those rights honored. As a result of these injustices, the Wenatchis had to leave their land. Most moved to the Colville Indian Reservation.
In 1937, Chief Harmelt died, but today his granddaughter and her children have taken up the fight along with other tribal elders of the Wenatchi Advisory Board and many others. About 28 percent of the land in the area that should have been a Wenatchi Reservation is still a part of the public domain. When will the US right this historical wrong?
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