The Washat Religion
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The Washat Religion



A presentation I made for my Native American Studies class at WVU, Summer 2010.

A presentation I made for my Native American Studies class at WVU, Summer 2010.



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  • im an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes Of The Umatilla Indian Reservation and we still practice this religion to this day. I think its pretty cool to see that other people around the U.S. have a interest in our beliefs. Drummers And Dreamers is a great read. There are a few other books out there about the Washat religion that are just as good.
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    The Washat Religion The Washat Religion Presentation Transcript

    • The Washat Religion
      By: Rachel Tibbs
    • I chose this topic because Native American religion has fascinated me since reading origin stories for a literature class two years ago.
      I enjoy learning about the traditions and ceremonies used to connect with and establish a relationship with nature.
      The Washat religion is especially interesting because while it is so isolated, existing primarily in one small Plateau area, it is also rich in history and meaning.
      Reason for Topic
    • Drummer-Dreamer Religion 1
      Washani Religion
      Longhouse Religion
      Seven Drum Religion
      Sunday Dance Religion
      Prophet Dance
      Washat’s Other Names 3
    • All creation is capable of having a spirit, and therefore deserves respect
      Because of this belief, followers have a very close relationship with nature
      An Animistic Faith 1
      “Henry Covington spearing salmon on the Columbia” 2
    • Smohalla, a Wanapum prophet from the Columbia Plateau
      He went on a desert mountain vision quest, and the religion was imparted to him by a bird
      Afterward, Smohalla moved to P’Na, a small village on the Columbia River, and introduced its inhabitants, the Wanapums, to Washat
      Founder 1
    • “Once the world was all water and God lived alone. He was lonesome and he had no place to put his foot, so he scratched the sand from the bottom and made the land and he made the rocks and he made trees and he made a man and the man was winged and could go anywhere.
      The man was lonesome and God made a woman. They ate fish from the water and God made the deer and other animals. . . Many more men and women grew up and they lived on the banks of the Great River whose waters were full of salmon.”
      ~ Smohalla, Wanapum prophet, to Major J.W.MacMurray, 1891.
      Human Origin Story 2
    • The earlier name of Drummer-Dreamer Faith was commonly used by natives
      The first part, Drummer, was due to the seven drums used in the religion’s traditional dance
      The second half, Dreamer, stemmed from Washat followers’ belief that the religion’s “leaders had died, obtained visions from the afterlife (and hence had been ‘dreaming’), then returned from the dead to lead their people.” 1
      Drummer-Dreamer 1
    • Traditions
      Weekly ceremonies consisting of:
      A meal of water and salmon from the Colombia River 1
      A Washat dance, at which traditional food roots are served, such as camas 1
      A song of Renevant Worship is sung before eating 5
      Food server with camas at Washat.5
      Wanapums and their guests singing before a Washat meal.5
    • Washat Dance 5
      Begins with the ringing of Smohalla’s bell as dancers stand on either side of the dance mat, facing each other
      The last mat lodge in Priest Rapids, formerly P’Na.5
    • Washat Decorations
      The Washat Sacred Bird, called Wowshuxkluh, carved by Smohalla.5 It represents the Bullock’s Oriole, which is the bird that gave Smohalla the Washat religion.1
      Puck Hyah Toot, last Wanapum prophet, with the six-pointed star flag that was owned by Smohalla; this flag is flown only at Washat dances. 5
    • Puck Hyah Toot is a descendant of “Smohalla the Dreamer.”
      He now leads Washat ceremonies and dances in Priest Rapids.
      Here, he is pictured with a drum featuring a sun, moon, and star: the nature symbols of Washat.1
      The Last Prophet 5
    • Current Reawakening 1
      The Washat religion’s respect for nature is a popular concept to natives and whites alike
      While traditions such as Washat dances and meals remain the same, many Wanapums are now working in local orchards, farms, and industries
      Some work on the Priest Rapids Dam, which flooded the Wanapums’ fishing grounds
      Priest Rapids Dam 4
    • McKenzie, Michael. "Washat Religion (Drummer-Dreamer Faith)." 1713-714. Google Scholar. Web. 18 June 2010. <>.
      "Moses Lake: Plateau Neighbors." Center for Columbia River History. The Center for Columbia River History. Web. 18 June 2010. <>.
      "Native American Religion." Wikipedia. Web. 18 June 2010. <>.
      "Priest Rapids Dam. Columbia River - Hydroelectric Project Information." Columbia Basin Research - School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences - University of Washington. Grant County PUD, 22 Dec. 2008. Web. 18 June 2010. <>.
      Yakima Memory. Yakima Valley Museum and Yakima Valley Libraries. Web. 18 June 2010. <>.
      Works Cited