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The Wannassay Clan of the Cowlitz Indians connection to the Clark County

This is a brief history of the the Wannassay Clan of the Cowlitz Indians of the Wannassay Nation. The Wannassay(Waunassies-LOWER COLUMBIA GROUP-many spellings on both sides of the Cascade Mountians)Clan of the Cowlitz Indians are direct decendants of the Natives that lived in Clark County, Washington and the surrounding area. They were a numerous tribe in the Pacific Northwest before the 1828 disease pandemic was brought by the American Ship "the Owyee" to the Lower Columbia, causing the death of 75% perscent of the Natives on the westside of the Cacades.
At the present, there is around 100 members of the Wannassay Clan enrolled in the present day Cowlitz Tribe. The Wannassays and their cousins started the modern day Cowlitz Political Tribe in 1912. The modern day Cowlitz Indians membership have a undisputed claim to Clark, Multnomah, and other counties in both Oregon and Washington even if the ICC rejected it. However, other tribal groups have members of the Wannassay Nation on their reservations and within their tribal roles. Most tribal groups hesitate to dicuss their connections to the Wannassay Nation because of the Wannassays unresolved Oregon Country land claims prior to the 1855 treaties with Issac Stevens.

The Cowlitz Tribal recoginition report issued in 2000, by the BAR department of the BIA was based on many accounts of the Wannassays and their cousins over the last 200 years. In retrospect, many members of the present day Cowlitz Tribe are Wannassay family members by marriage or because of marriage to Wannassay cousins. For instances, many Metis families claim their heritage by their blood or lineal relationship to Cowlitz Chief "Old Scanewa" who died in 1828. However, his son Scanewa Wahawa, in the 1830s, married Cynthia Waunassay creating another cousin link among these families of the present Cowlitz Tribe, Nisqually Tribe, Puyallup Tribe, and others.

One of the complexities of Pacific Northwest Indian History is the royal marriages among different Native groups on both sides of the Cascades before and after Western contact(DNA Testing could resolve many of these issues). The Tribal indentification of complexity caused by the royal marriages can be seen in present times and during the Issac Steven Treaty meeting on both sides of Cascades where some of the same royal families are present. Unfortunately, a multituted of Pacific Northwest Tribes have been recoginized by the government over the last two hundred years rejecting this geneological reality of overall family connections. Consiquently, the families has been divided into many groups working against each other for the good of the government powers that hold the purse strings.

So, do the Cowlitz Indians have a claim to Clark County, it is a no brainer, but so do many tribes in the Pacfic Northwest. In reality, the ancestral claim to Clark County belongs to desendants of the Wannassay Nation not any particular tribal group. However, the Wannassay Nation has never been recoginized by the government even though they were present at many treaty meetings. The best the Wannassays can do at this piont is to claim their rights through the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. However, the government and others need to get to the bottom of the Wannassay Nation issue, so we can straighten out this mess of multible tribal groups laying claim to the same land area because of their connections to the Wannassay Nation. This is only the beginning of the dicussion on this issue, please feel free to comment and interact on this and other tribal issues in a sane and polite way.

I am Proud to be Wannassay 28.Nov.2007 02:55

Ilchee Wannassay of Alaska ilchee_wannassay@yahoo.com

I am honored that someone has the guts and courage to speak about my family. Although, there are things that should not be discussed outside of the clan -- meaning the family, when things of land and land claims are concerned. We have been fighting inter-tribal for years with those who hold controlling seats on the council and I for one have all but gave up talking to them or anyone else where the Wannassay's are concerned. I am a true Wannassay not one of the wanna-be Wannassays' that are out there talking for us as a unit. Ilchee (Daughter of the Moon).