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John Harmelt: The last chief of the Wenatchi

John Harmelt (c. 1847-1937)

John Harmelt was the last chief of the Wenatchi band of Salish-speaking Indians who for millennia lived in the river valley that now bears their name.

He inherited the leadership from his father around 1902. By this time the Wenatchis had been assigned to the Sahaptin-speaking Yakama reservation after their traditional lands, granted to them by the 1855 Treaty, were overtaken by white settlers.

During the course of his life Chief Harmelt fought the government over its broken promises, traveling on several occasions to Washington, D.C.

But sadly, he did not see his hopes and demands met and he and his wife died when their Cashmere home burned to the ground.

One of greatest Wenatcheeains to be portrayed at our People of Our Past historic event, Harmelt will be played by his very own grandson, William Dick.

Come, speak with history this Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center.

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