Chief Kamiakin
Kamiakin's Story Kamiakin Video

His Story

Here at Kamiakin High School we are fortunate to have such an epic namesake. We are speaking of course about Chief Kamiakin. However, It seems that many students know very little about this outstanding individual. This page is dedicated to the Northwest Patriot that strived to be the best he could be for his people.

The following is an abbreviated history with information largely from "Finding Chief Kamiakin" by Richard D. Scheuerman, Michael O. Finley, and John Clement. For a more indepth read we suggest this text. You can also find serveral good resources online:

Chief Kamiakin

A Drawing of Chief Kamiakin
(Enlarge Photo)
Source: Finding Chief Kamiakin

Kamiakin was born around the year 1800 near present day Starbuck, Washington. His father was a member of the Palouse tribe named Ja-ya-yah-e-ha and his mother was a daughter of chief We-ow-wicht of the Yakama tribe. Kamiakin had two brothers, one named Skloom and the other Show-a-way. When Kamiakin's father decided to take on another wife, his mother returned to the Yakama taking him and his brother Skloom with her. As a youngster, Kamiakin was very competitive and quite the athlete. In almost every competition he was in, he was the victor.

Cleveland Kamiakin on parade

Cleveland Kamiakin Parade.D. Barr
(Enlarge Photo)
Source: Finding Chief Kamiakin

When Chief Kamiakin became the chief of the Yakamas, he had five wives. Some of these wives were from different tribes causing the tribes to band together and strengthen them overall. Kamiakin was also interested in new ideas and concepts. For instance, Kamiakin was one of the first chiefs of the northwest to use irrigation as a way to grow crops. He also accepted Christianity. This however did not change the Yakama culture.

Cleveland Kamiakin

Cleveland Kamiakin
(Enlarge Photo)
Source: Finding Chief Kamiakin

When the settlers started making reservations, Kamiakin did whatever he could to keep the U.S government from taking their land. When other tribes wanted to give into the demands of the pioneers, he steadfastly refused their requests. He lead resistance forces against the Calvary that seized their lands. After several attempts to fend off the invaders, Kamiakin was defeated at The Battle Of Four Lakes. Luckily, Kamiakin was only wounded and was able to live on. He was the only Chief that refused to surrender.

Kiatana Kamiakin

Katiana Kamiakin
(Enlarge Photo)
Source: Finding Chief Kamiakin

After a long life, Kamiakin died in the year of 1877 in his home on the Palouse River. In his last years Kamiakin lived in reverence. He was often offered food, clothes, and supplies but steadfastly refused them even in the face of defeat of the body and the soul. He was an honorable Chief who believed in a cause that was more important than his own safety and health. Chief Kamiakin was a northwest patriot who strived to "Be the Best he could Be."

Mary Kamiakin

Mary Kamiakin
(Enlarge Photo)
Source: Finding Chief Kamiakin

Note: I'd like to say that it has been a pleasure making this site and learning about Chief Kamiakin. If i could continue on this project i'd try to get interviews from actual Kamiakin relatives and explain the relevance between the Yakama tribe and the items around this schools campus. I'd like to thank Richard D. Scheuerman, Michael O. Finley, and Arlis Hoglen for all there help and support.
All information and photos used in this project is from the book "Finding Chief Kamiakin" by Richard D. Scheuerman,
Michael O. Finley, and John Clement

Written by Christopher Kelly

Kamiakin High School, 600 N. Arthur, Kennewick, WA - 509.222.7000 - Last updated 6/17/09