CTS in the Yakima Valley

Yakima Valley Cultural Traditions Survey: Year 1

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The Center is thrilled to kick off its first year of the Cultural Traditions Survey by starting in-depth research in the Yakima Valley!


Why the Yakima Valley?

Photo by Kristin Sullivan.
The idea for starting the Cultural Traditions Survey project in the Yakima Valley came from folks interviewed during the “Landscape Analysis of Cultural Traditions of Washington State,” a research project conducted by Center director Kristin Sullivan, in fall 2016-spring 2017. More than any other region of the state, the Yakima Valley came up over and again as a region of interest in conversations we had with organization leaders and tradition bearers. People pointed to the unique intersection of diverse, vibrant, and resilient communities present in the Valley: members of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation; Latino/a/x immigrants both long-established in the valley, and more newly settled; Filipino and Japanese communities; the agriculture, viticulture, hops, and tourism industries; and much more. The Yakima Valley is home to rich cultural heritages worth better understanding and promoting in partnership with these communities, in culturally-appropriate ways.

Who is leading this project?

No one will know a place as well as someone who lives there, so we’re partnering with contracted researchers on Cultural Traditions Survey projects. In the Yakima Valley we’re excited to announce that the Center is working with Rodrigo Rentería-Valencia, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, and former Yakima resident.

Dr. Rodrigo Rentería-Valencia

Over the past few years Rodrigo has invested himself in the life of the Yakima Valley—getting to know residents of Yakima, taking part in festivals and celebrations put on by cultural organizations such as La Casa Hogar, Yakima Valley College, and the Yakima Rotary Club; attending Pow-wows and celebrations in White Swan and at Heritage Universityand even talking about the importance of the Yakima Valley’s traditional foodways with the Yakima Herald.

We have already begun outreach to community organizations and tradition bearers who have worked with folk and traditional arts programs in the past—but we would love your help in learning who we should meet and what we should do!


Casa Hogar fiesta
Dancer at a La Casa Hogar celebration in 2017. Photo by Rodrigo Rentería-Valencia.

What kinds of traditions are we interested in learning about, and supporting?

Examples include regional musical traditions (corridos, marimba, etc.); various forms of fishing; agricultural practices and traditions related to harvesting apples, cherries, hops, wine grapes, etc; religious and other ceremonies; artistic and craft traditions (basket weaving, rosemaling, fiber arts, etc.); dance (Pow-wow dances; sayaw sa bangko, etc.); recreational traditions; food festivals, and much more.


Help with the Yakima Valley Survey!

Do you know someone who is a “tradition bearer” or “culture keeper” in your community, who might be willing to be part of this project? We would love to hear from you, and to learn from you (see contact info below).

Or do you have ideas about festivals or events we should attend? Let us know!

You can reach out to Kristin Sullivan any time at kristin@humanities.org , and Rodrigo Rentería-Valencia at Rodrigo.Renteria@cwu.edu. You can also follow our adventures on social media, @WACultures on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

And if you see us out and about in the Yakima Valley, please stop us to say hello, or tell us a story about your traditions!

20170612_CWCT_KS_Yakama Res Hops_photo_pres
Hops–an economically and culturally important crop in the Yakima Valley–growing on the Yakama Reservation. Photo by Kristin Sullivan.


The 2018 Yakima Valley Cultural Traditions Survey was generously funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Yakima Valley Community Foundation.



Featured image of an iconic Washington apple box by Rodrigo Rentería-Valencia.