Monday, July 1, 2013

Toppanish, Washington--A town apart

A few miles south of Yakima and inside the boundaries of the Yakima Nation Indian Reservation is a very interesting little town called Toppanish.

The name of the town is a Yakima word for 'Landslide'--which may be an interesting story in itself--I'm sorry I didn't find out what it was.
The town has less than 9000 residents and is not particularly unique until you start noticing the murals--lots and lots of murals.


Old, sometimes vacant buildings start to show signs of life...

Interesting life...

With stories to tell.

The murals are sometimes advertisements,

And sometimes announcements of popular events (no, the guy on the ladder is not real).
There are many murals showing the development of the town...

"When a Permit was Not Required"
Early Toppenish had a flourishing cattle business.  To get the cattle to the stock yards or rail road they were sometimes driven right through the Main Street of the town.

And recognition of prominent members of the community.

There is a great pride in the history of the Yakima Nation...

"Treaty of 1855"

In the late spring of 1855, representatives from the major tribes of Washington Territory gathered in council at Walla Walla.  Chief Kami Akin was the leader of the Confederacy of Tribes and Bands.  The Yakima Treaty created a reservation of approximately 1875 square miles of land, forests, streams and lakes for the 14 original tribes or bands for "As long as the mountain stands and the river flows."

Cherie and her oldest son, Tavius, were great tour directors for the day.


"He was born near The Dalles, Oregon in 1835.  He descended from the Wishram and Wasco Tribes. As a young man, he became a cowboy and founded the sport of Bulldogging.  He went to Montana and stayed there for many years, being adopted into the Piegan Tribe and was called 'Owl Child'.
He endured religious purification of the Sundance and later became a Shaman.  In 1876 Alex was a witness to the battle of the Little Big Horn.  He was a paid government scout during the Modoc Wars.
He spoke eight languages.
He returned to the Yakima Valley and received an allotment of land.  He was a prolific horse rancher, a policeman, and served one term as a judge.  He was active in Indian Affairs.  He died from an infected leg injury at one hundred and four years of age."

This team of horses seemed to be charging  right out of the side of the building.

"Clearing the Land"

In the early days of Toppenish history the settlers worked from sunrise to sunset for weeks at a time.  Each family pulled and burned acres of sagebrush and greasewood to make room to plant their crops.

The history of the area is played out from mural to mural.

Wow!  And a lot goes into making beer!  

"The Hop Murals depict the ealiest hop yards before the turn of the 19th Century when modern day trellises became popular. The bottoms of the 12-15 foot poles were scorched to prevent rot.  The poles were stuck solidly into the earth at the base of the hop plant and the vines trained up the pole.  
Harvest, a family affair , began in the fall, when the vine wrapped poles were laid over large wooden boxes.  The cones were picked by hand. Burlap sacks were filled and carried to kilns where the hops were dried.  
Baled hop were inspected by the merchants, weighed, and then offered to buyers representing brewers the world over."

"Hops are a necessary flavoring ingredient in beer.  They have been an important commodity in America since 1612.  When the first brewery was established by early Dutch settlers on Manhattan Island.  Hops   have been grown in the western United States since the middle 1800s and in the Yakima Valley since 1868. Washington, Oregon and Idaho now produce over 25% of the world's hop supply, with the Yakima Valley currently the world's second largest growing area."


"The judge watches as the prosecutor presents the evidence.  A small glass of water is held above an old milk can.  Charged with diluting milk, the farmer sits with hat on knee, his lawyer standing behind him.  An old spittoon in front of the judge's desk and a coal stove with a coal scuttle is nearby.  Old time sheriff, Hutchinson, over seven feet tall, looms over the proceedings.  This early courtroom scene was played out many times.  Guilty was the verdict of the judge, Levi J. Goodrich.  The fine, $52.50.  The heavy oak gavel dropped--next case."

Old and decrepit buildings gain a new life.

These are only a portion of the murals in this town.  A person could walk the streets in a day and learn the history and development with wonderful pictures that bring it all to life.

However, this did not seem to fit with all the rest.

And finally, a little humor.

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