Iksiks Washanahl’a

The Yakama Nation’s Iksiks Washanahl’a, or “Little Swans,” is a group of young women and girls learning traditional songs, dance, and knowledge from their elders. They perform an ages-old Swan Dance, and other songs and dances given to them by their elders and ancestors. In doing so they carry on their people’s traditional culture and form indelible bonds and a network of support during such an important time in their lives.

Getting to learn about the Iksiks Washanahl’a from Yakama elders was a remarkable thing, and we are most grateful. Our lessons involved learning about traditional songs, dance, and language–that is, culture, as well as health. Through learning about the Little Swans we came to learn about the impact of historical trauma on the Yakama Nation, and the hope that elders see in the faces of their youth.

We were inspired to create both a podcast* and a video** featuring stories and knoweldge shared with us through the Yakima Valley CTS. Check back later in 2019 for these.


*The Folk Forward podcast was produced by the Jack Straw Cultural Center

**Video for the Yakima Valley CTS was edited by Western Washington Student interns Mickey Wells and Amber Holloway-Cook.

The Yakima Valley Cultural Traditions Survey is generously funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works (2018) and by the Yakima Valley Community Foundation (2018, 2019).



Cover image of Patricia “Patsy” Whitefoot, Eleanor Hunt, and one of the Little Swans. Photo by Kristin Sullivan, 2018.