By Donald W. Meyers, originally Published in the Yakima Herald-Republic
The Wenas area offered the Yakama areas protected from harsh winters and good water supplies. It also provided access to the west side of the Cascades, allowing for trade with the tribes on the coast, as well as the Hudson’s Bay outposts at Fort Nisqually and Fort Vancouver.
In 1847, Owhi invited priests from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to come to the Valley and teach the people, in return for his protection. It is believed that the missionaries taught the Yakama how to irrigate land, practices Owhi’s people used in the Wenas Valley to grow crops, leading to the name “Owhi’s Garden.”
In August 1853, a U.S. Army surveying team from Fort Vancouver led by Capt. George B. McClellan came into the Valley, camping at Owhi’s Gardens. Scouts who encountered McClellan’s company reported that he said territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens was going to make a treaty to take the land from the Natives.