Bill Yallup Jr: Historical Trauma

Chief William Yallup Jr. is a respected elder and river chief. His father is Chief William Yallup, Sr. and he is a direct descendant of treaty signer Wish-Och-Kmpits, and can trace relations to the chiefs Kamiakin and Skloom who were present for the treaty signing. Bill Yallup Jr is a keeper of oral history related to the treaties and strong advocate for treaty related rights.


“So those people have a right to get what they need and how they need it. It’s not up to somebody else to come in and say, ‘oh I know what you need. You know, you should have this, I know why you don’t have this. I know why, you don’t try hard enough, you make bad choices, you know what you need to do and you just don’t want to do it.’ You don’t approach people that way and expect them e to change. You say how can I help you? What is it that I can do? How can we do this? Back home I told them, I said, have you heard of this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? They say that veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan come home and have that, my son has that. He’s hyper vigilant, he has a lot of anxiety, fear–nightmares. He’s always concerned about…when he first came home he couldn’t sleep on a bed, he slept on the floor. And he couldn’t sleep next to the window he had to sleep below it in case somebody started shooting through the window. Always watching things and things would set him off. He just didn’t want to be around people, he wanted to be away from everybody. Just leave me alone, get away, leave me alone. I said you hear the same things at these camps. These people have PTSD. Our people have been attacked and destroyed, you know. And they continued to be attacked and assaulted everyday. You have the police coming down there, harassing people, hauling them off to jail. They put them in prison for fishing. For selling fish. You have people calling the police and the police are coming down there and saying we got a phone call from an anonymous tip, saying you’re doing this. Why are you doing that? And the person goes ‘I’m not doing anything.’ Well our anonymous tip said they saw you doing that so we want to see your ID, we want to see all this. So these people are always hyper vigilant, always being attacked. Is there any wonder they have PTSD? You can’t just throw money at it. Oh we’re going to hire counselors and therapists to come down to the river and work with the Native population to get rid of that PTSD. That might work, but what you need to do is to get people to stop calling the police and saying, ‘I’m a anonymous tip’ and having the police coming down and harassing people. You need to have people say, ‘you know what? If you get a anonymous tip about something, write it down and send it to the tribal government,’ and let the tribal government deal with it. The people on the river have to know that the people that they live next to–they can trust. That the county sheriff and the state police are dealing with the tribal government. There’s a government relationship, so that they can have some peace and contentment. And that the people that survived the losses, Celilo and all these other places along the river, are the last victims of the Indian War. So I get a chance to to talk about it and tell people about it. People maybe they don’t want to talk about, don’t want to share it, but I will. And I think it’s important. I think it’s important that the people in the world see the native people being treated with respect and dignity and their voice being heard and people care about them”

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