Yakima (yăkˈəmô, –mə) [key], indigenous people of North America whose language belongs to the Sahaptin-Chinook branch of the Penutian linguistic stock (see Native American languages). In the early 19th cent. they lived along the Columbia and Yakima rivers, in central Washington. They then numbered some 1,200. In 1855 an attempt by the United States to place the Yakima on a reservation in Washington resulted in war. Under a capable leader, Kamiakin, the Yakima fought until 1859, when they were subdued. Several other tribes subsequently joined them on the reservation there and were absorbed by the Yakima. The culture of the Yakima was of the Plateau area (see under Natives, North American); they subsisted on salmon, roots, berries, and nuts. Today most live on the Yakima Reservation, where the main sources of income are forestry, construction, and casino gambling. In 1990 there were over 7,500 Yakima in the United States.
See C. Relander, Strangers on the Land (1962).