For this week’s Latino USA, we profile the Mexican and Native American communities who live together on the Yakama Nation, a Native American reservation in Eastern Washington.
The Yakama people are heavily outnumbered by Latinos on the reservation, who settled here over recent decades because the region’s robust agricultural industry. Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA producer Marlon Bishop spent about a week on the reservation, with local reporter Rowan Moore Gerety of Northwest Public Radio. During our time there, we witnessed two communities often in conflict with one another, despite shared indigenous roots. There were conflicts over tribal taxes and tribal laws, over the perception of “special concessions” for Spanish speakers and often, over nothing at all except old-fashioned racism. But we also witnessed communities that are learning to live with one another, who are borrowing from each other’s cultures, and who starting families together. Below, are some images we captured during our time there.
All photos by Marlon Bishop
3 thoughts on “Latinos on the Reservation: In Pictures”
This is a hugely bothersome issue, second only to the rash of disenfranchisement/disenrollment sweeping the Tribal Nations in the last few years. At this point I want all the tribes to redraft their enrollment lists and decide who are blood tribal and who is going to live by the culture and preserve a heritage, to be accepted as tribal members, then make a pact to not cut members OR completely dissolve all tribal associations. The right of soveriegnty should not be used to benefit invading cultures and opportunists while the intended vulnerable community it was meant to protect is bred out and bastardized for show, as seen in many Pow-wow’s. Just the fact that these “tribes” believe calling themselves “Indians” is a matter of pride is tantamount to the self-destructive practices that the Navajo Nation made famous. I never realized how much of a loss is the Yakima nation. I don’t believe they really exist anymore, much like a majority of smaller tribes.
The point of protections for these tribes was an attempt to retain some of these unique clans, admittedly shrouded in stealing land and cordoning a people looked on as sub-human in mostly sub-par shreds of mostly undesirable lands, BUT that one offering from the Federal government is now very rarely true to purpose.
By the way, I am a disenfranchised member of a tiny California tribe, voted out by the overwhleming hispanic wave. If this tribe had their native lands we would be stewards of a large chunk of Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, Lake County and the Napa/Calistoga area, not 5 square miles of toxic land where one could easily be shot. There is no way that is ever coming back, and therefore nor are the people.
Perhaps, the answer is letting people decide their race/culture as easily as one can declare their sex as long as their declaration is where they truly see their identity and heritage. This is the only way to revive and retain a rare and beautiful and greatly varied system of unique cultures that reigned all over this nation for eons, before their lands and resource became irresistable to outsiders. I admit I am sad to be tribeless but I am hopeful for a new and better TRIBE.
Invading cultures? Opportunist? The gene pool has to expand sometime. Why would you want your tribal members to keep dying from sicknesses like the ones so commonly affecting each others. Don’t you see the advantage of welcoming any human into your community.