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Roughly ten percent of the country’s Native American population served in the military, nearly one third of all able-bodied men.

Nez Perce tribal elder Veronica Taylor recalls, “My dad had to go away to military training and go into the war.

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Buck’s elders were told, “This would be just for the war, that in order to protect the United States of America, they were going to do something here.” And so, with little more explanation, work at Hanford commenced, with the indigenous people relocated to Priest Rapids, nearly forty miles northwest.

It should be noted that Native Americans were given some access to their lands.

The Wanapum was the only tribe to settle in the Hanford area, while the Nez Perce, Yakama and Umatilla relied on the Columbia Basin for hunting, fishing, and ceremonial purposes.

Today artifacts associated with the campsites or burial grounds can be found on the Hanford site.

Native American tribes were the earliest known inhabitants of the Columbia Basin.

The area was known for its excellent salmon fishing.On January 13, 1943, General Leslie Groves officially selected the Hanford area as the Manhattan Project’s plutonium production site.Local residents were given ninety days to relocate.The Manhattan Project prohibited many Native Americans from enjoying their ancestral lands as the military took over hundreds of square miles for scientific laboratories and industrial production facilities at Los Alamos, NM and Hanford, WA.While Manhattan Project officials made some provisions for access, Native Americans were generally unable to enjoy their traditional hunting, fishing and camping grounds or sacred ancestral sites.Yakama tribe member Russell Jim recalls the idyllic conditions of the Hanford site before the Manhattan Project, when it served as the Yakama wintering ground.

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