Yakama Nation Authorizes Use of Warrior Image for School District

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The Yakama Nation will allow the Wahluke School District in Mattawa to continue the use of the Wahluke Warrior image for the time being, according to a Yakama Nation news release.

The district has until January 2023 to develop a memorandum of understanding with the Yakama Nation to ensure the use of the image remains respectful.

State legislation passed in April banned the use of Native American names, symbols or imagery as school mascots, logos or team names, unless a school located on or near Native lands consults and obtains permission from the nearest tribe.

The Wahluke Warrior represents the strong relationship between the district and the nearby Wanapum Indians of Priest Rapids, according to the release. The Wanapum are part of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.

The district proposed the idea of a Warrior image to the Wanapum in the 1980s. Frank Buck, a Wanapum leader, guided the district through the development of the Warrior, according to a letter to the district from Wanapum Leader Rex Buck, Jr. that was partially included in the release.

The Wahluke Warrior is intended to represent specific values, such as respecting the land, strong family ties and leadership potential, Buck, Jr. wrote, according to the release. The meaning of the image is not related to fighting or violence.

"The Yakama Nation Tribal Council is pleased to support Wahluke School District and our Wanapum relatives to continue the positive relationship developed honoring the Warrior image that honors the land, water, and people of the land," Yakama Tribal Council Chairman Delano Saluskin said in the news release.