Ceremony held at Balfour Klickitat Trail to dedicate benches to Yallup and Chilcutt

Photos and Story by Carol Craig
Lyle, Washington (NFIC) 9-09

From left to right,  Jerry Meninick, seated on bench, Arlen Washines, Davis Washines,  Wendell Hannigan.

Two completely different backgrounds and two men who held the same reverence for the Klickitat River and Mother Nature's offerings were honored by family and friends August 27 at the Balfour Klickitat Trail. 

Yakama leader, elder, statesman, broker and chairman of the Yakama Nation, the late William F. Yallup, Sr. and Glen Chilcutt, father and grandfather will be remembered as men who held the highest esteem for the river and its bounty.

The trail winds by the river on the west side where hikers can now sit and rest at the bench sites overlooking the landscape. The Klickitat flows into the Columbia River at Lyle in the gorge.

Getting the benches on the trail took three years of work for the families and United States Forest Service (USFS). The original idea of the memorial benches came from 90-year old Pearl Chillcut who wanted to honor her late husband. After Martha Yallup heard of it she also wanted a bench to honor her husband too. The benches were already in the planning for an eagle watching area along the river by the USFS.

“We began by looking at trail head and decided we didn’t want them there,” said Sue Baker, USFS from Hood River, Ore. So the three women then took to the trail. Once they decided where they wanted to position the benches the long federal process began. There was the agreement between the families and the feds to have benches built, the location along the river and funding the families would provide. “All of that paper work had to be cleared through the federal agencies before this could happen,” she said.

 Martha Yallup resting on bench.

Finally the day came where Yakama religious leaders came to bless the benches and give prayers for the families. Chilcutt and Yallup both have their names on the resting back of each bench. On the first bench the Chilcutt family requested words on the plaque: “Teach a child to fish.” And both are inscribed with “In memory of.”

“This was his favorite place. His family knew he was at peace when at this place,” said Chilcutt. The Chilcutt family included children and grandchildren.  Both families and friends walked the trail with some using hiking sticks while others donned their sun hats and sipped water.

“The people who respect the environment and hike here will have a place to sit and rest,” said Martha Yallup, wife of the late Yallup, Sr.  “We fished in this river. It’s a special place.” Yallup along with her family members, tribal leaders and friends gathered with the Chilcutt family afterwards for a luncheon at the local Lions Club.

Yakama religious leaders, Jerry Meninick, Davis Washines, Arlen Washines and Wendell Hannigan gathered at the bench site to sing a traditional Yakama song and say a prayer for those who gathered to honor the late tribal leader, William F. Yallup.

Meninick said the three different families, Yallup, Washines and Meninick, grew up in the Rock Creek area together watching the seasons. “Some watched the sun and there are calendar markers down here. The petroglyphs have notches on the rock. As a season progresses the sunsets behind Mt. Adams in the winter and later behind Mt. Rainier. That’s how they counted because the light gives us the life and we could tell the season by the moon too,” he said.

“I was greatly attached to this man. I remember there would be 17 of us in the council room when he had his hearing aide on. Sometimes there would be humming sound out of hearing aide. When that sound wasn’t there we knew something was missing Meninick said.

Even after Yallup suffered a stroke and when they had to travel he would walk through the entire airport. I asked him one time if he wanted me to get one of those riding carts for him. He said, “No, that’s for old people.”

Yallup was also remembered as having a great sense of humor. Wendell Hannigan said Bill gave him nickname ‘Hershel.’ Even tribal staff wasn’t immune to being nicknamed by Yallup. “Dollar Bill is the name he gave to Bill Bosch, one of our biologists,” Hannigan said. “And he’s probably with us today. I know how he would appreciate this because he loved the mountains.”

Golf was one of Yallup’s favorite pastimes and Arlen Washines said he was grateful that he had the opportunity to be there. “When I would go to the golf course I remember being with him, putting with him and I miss that. I want to thank Martha for taking good care of him. All the work she’s done and the love she has for him. I appreciate that.”

Each year as everyone was getting ready for Ellensburg Rodeo Yallup would tell stories of where he was born and later he would often be in the parade there.

Davis Washines said, “He would tell us he was glad you guys are caring on the encampment. This bench is appropriate because that’s the way he was.” Washines has kept his mementoes of him describing the little yellow sticky notes Yallup would hand him. “This is like one of these notes here, this bench.”

Hannigan added that the words said were not enough to truly commemorate what Yallup had done. “Now it is up to us to talk to the young ones and of what yet is to be done. The backbone of environmental law is federal Indian law because the Indians were the first ones to stand up to take actions for the environment because this is our religion, our foods and maybe this action might be the beginning of work for others. Indians work to benefit everything land, nature, animals and people and that’s what he believed in.”

William F. Yallup, Sr

Yallup was born on Sept. 4, 1926 in a tepee at the tribal village during the Labor Day Rodeo in Ellensburg, Wash. His paternal grandparents were Chief We Yallup and was a descendent of the seventh 1855 Treaty signer Wish-Och-Kmpits and Annie Chess. His maternal grandparents were Wesley Charley and Annie Jim.   His passed away June 17, 2006.

His Tribal names were Chow wah wut yukt of the Palouse and Weal ul kaich of the Kah milt pah. He spoke fluent Yakama and was a full-blood Yakama member. He was raised learning the traditional ways of the Yakama people. By listening, he learned from elders who had relatives present during and after the Treaty signing.

From a young age he was athletic growing up riding horses, playing football, basketball, baseball, track and boxing. During his school days he attended Toppenish schools until his senior year when he transferred to Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon and graduate in 1945. He attended Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, Yakima Valley Junior college, Sacramento State College and Central Washington State College. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953-55 and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1947-61.

He coached the Toppenish Papooses, an independent basketball team that played in the Yakima City Major League and the Lower Valley League. In 1964, the Papooses traveled to Japan and Korea with the Harlem Clowns.

He served as Chief Judge of the Yakama Tribal Court from 1965-69 then moved to Olympia, Wash. to serve as Indian Affairs Coordinator for Washington State

He completed the term of a deceased Tribal Council member and joined the Yakama Tribal Council in 1956 and actively led managing the Tribe’s natural resource. Yallup understood the natural resources could not speak for themselves and was committed to preserve and protect the natural resources for the future generations.

Yallup was Chairman of the Yakama Tribal Council, Chairman of the Executive Board, Budget & Finance, Enrollment, Law & Order, Fish & Wildlife, Timber, Grazing and Overall Economic Development, Housing, Education and Welfare, Cultural and Public Relations. His leadership abilities were recognized and he appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, approved by the Governors of Washington and Oregon, as a voting member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council from 1985-1988. And he was a voting member of the U.S. Delegation for the U.S-Canada Fisheries Negotiation Treaty and member of the United States Salmon-Steelhead Commission.

In 1980, Washington’s governor appointed him a member of the Northwest Power Planning Council Salmon Advisory Council.