Yakama War: Ayat


Yakama War: Ayat (Woman)

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The Yakama War took place for four years (1855-1859). This collection includes a short film and ebook to share the story in the Yakama Language and from a tribal perspective. 

2019: Poetry eBook is in progress  

August 12-13 2017 - Free Film Screening "Yakama War: Ayat" in Seattle, WA. This is a part of Artist-in-Residence with Eighth Generation by Louie Gong Pike Place Market: 93 Pike St #103, Seattle, WA 98101.


There are many things that stand out, but one of the specific words to share and teach is the word for woman in the Yakama Language. The woman is depicted in our native history in the wars, however, she omitted in the historical record of the Yakama War. There are numerous times the elders have approached me and made sure I knew the importance of women in our tribe in the past, present and future.


How are Natives Portrayed in History? 

If you look on television or the history books, Natives are often portrayed as bloodthirsty. Other times, they do not show a picture of a current Native. I used to shy away from these films and I would sometimes turn my face at the horrible wars I would see on television. I just felt sad. The voice felt incomplete. Luckily, I had a small library of books from my parents' shelves. I also had the voice and wisdom of our tribe. 

Still, with all of that, it takes awhile to come to terms with our history. It is pretty long in some places and it is too short in others. Often times, I would read history books and the way they talked about Yakamas and I would just cry. I would look at my kids and think how is it possible that there were people out there that did not want them to exist?

Present Info in a Meaningful Way

One October day, I read a letter from the 1850s that the U.S.
Military wrote to our one of our Yakama Chiefs (14 Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation).  I had read this many times. I picked up our story in our language of the battles. Then, I wondered as someone who shies away from watching war films, gets sad when reading horrible history, what if there is a way that I could present this in a concise and meaningful way? Maybe it could be a resource for families to have conversations? Maybe communities would retell the history. 


Then I wondered...Yakama War

This is the story of the Yakama War: Ayat (Woman). I chose this parallel of featuring women that fought in the Yakama War as well as a side-by-side view as a present day Yakama revisiting the topic. 

Our ancestors are right: Our lives mean something

I think about the fact that sometimes it is a cruel world. I wonder a lot about how to present this information. How can I take time away from blowing bubbles for my kids to study this war? Late night study sessions to comb through books and resources is sometimes exciting, other times, I am exhausted. Sometimes, the words on the paper sting. The point, I tell myself over and over is that I am adding our Native voice to the topic. This voice, says that despite everything, we are here. We are living and having children. Our lives mean something. Our ancestors fighting for us to continue living did not happen in vain.  

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Produced By: Jen Germaine

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