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Lewis and Clark
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image: Walla Walla Indians
Photograph of Walla Walla man courtesy Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis's 'The North American Indian': the Photographic Images, 2001.
Walla Walla Indians

The Walla Walla lived along the river that bears their name and around the junction of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, in territory that is now part of northern Oregon and southern Washington State. They dried salmon on scaffolds and pounded the dried fish into meal. At one point Clark noted that over 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) of dried salmon was ready for trade.

When the expedition met the Walla Walla on October 18, 1805, they were eagerly greeted. The lead chief, Yelleppit, wanted the trade goods that Lewis and Clark could provide. He also wanted the long-term benefits that these goods could bring his people.

Eager to get down the Columbia, the Corps didn't stay as long as the chief wished, but he extracted a promise from them that they would linger on their return home the next year.

When Lewis and Clark did return to the Walla Walla villages in April 1806, they were again greeted warmly by the band. Yelleppit presented Clark with a beautiful white horse and received Clark's sword, some ammunition, and trade goods in exchange. The Corps was persuaded to stay one more day.

Later that night they learned why the chief had been so eager for them to remain. A large group of nearby Yakima had been invited to join them and they celebrated with music, dancing—and, of course, gift-giving.

By 1855 the Walla Walla were settled with the Cayuse and Umatilla on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. As of 1990 there were more than 2,300 members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

From the Expedition Journals

"We took leave of those honest people the Wallahwallahs. ..."

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