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Toppenish, Washington
—  City  —
Location of Toppenish in Washington
Coordinates: 46°22′44″N 120°18′43″W / 46.37889°N 120.31194°W / 46.37889; -120.31194Coordinates: 46°22′44″N 120°18′43″W / 46.37889°N 120.31194°W / 46.37889; -120.31194
Country United States
State Washington
County Yakima
 - Total 1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)
 - Land 1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 758 ft (231 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 8,946
 Density 4,762.7/sq mi (1,837.3/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 98948
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-71960[1]
GNIS feature ID 1512732[2]

Toppenish is a city in Yakima County, Washington, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 8,946.



The General Allotment Act of 1887 granted an 80-acre (320,000 m2) allotment of land to a woman of half Indian ancestry, Josephine Bowser Lillie, known as “The Mother of Toppenish”. Lillie platted the north 40 acres (160,000 m2) of her land and these tracts became the first deeded land to be sold on the Yakama Nation Reservation.

Prior to the act’s implementation, all territory set aside by the Treaty of 1855 was in the name of the tribe. None of the land was individually owned. The treaty of 1855 between the United States government, representatives from thirteen other bands, tribes, and Chief Kamiakin resulted in the Yakama Nation relinquishing 16,920 square miles (43,800 km2) of their homeland. Prior to ceding their land, the area was inhabited solely by Native Americans. The only white pioneers before the coming of the railroad in 1883 were ranchers from older settlements bordering the Columbia River.

Some sources cite the city’s name of Toppenish as deriving from an Yakama Nation word “Xuupinish”, meaning sloping and spreading[citation needed], while another source contends it is a derivative of the word “Thappahnish”, which translates to “People of the trail that comes from the foot of the hills.”[citation needed]

Another description of the name Toppenish is a word from the Yakama Nation language dialect Sahaptin, which is "topen"[citation needed] (with a long "o"), meaning "low hills." Then there is the English language suffix "ish" meaning "those from or those of." Put the two together, "topen" and "ish" would mean "those from the low hills." Add an additional "p" to this, and change to a short "o," and the name then becomes "Toppenish." This seems to be a slang term that the early white settlers used to describe the people of the Yakama Nation before their real identity was known.

Ensconced in the heart of the Yakima Valley in Washington State, the city lies inside the boundaries of the Yakama Nation’s Reservation. Toppenish was officially incorporated on April 29, 1907, and founded by Johnny Barnes.


Toppenish is located at 46°22′44″N 120°18′43″W / 46.37889°N 120.31194°W / 46.37889; -120.31194 (46.378880, -120.311823).[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.9 km²), all of it land.

Railway depot mural in Toppenish, Washington.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 8,946 people, 2,275 households, and 1,874 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,762.7 people per square mile (1,837.3/km²). There were 2,440 housing units at an average density of 1,299.0/sq mi (501.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 31.48% White, 0.56% Black or African American, 7.90% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 55.95% from other races, and 3.72% from two or more races. 75.72% of the population were Hispanic or Latino. There were 2,275 households out of which 52.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.1% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.6% were non-families. 14.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.88 and the average family size was 4.26.

In the city the population was spread out with 38.8% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 14.2% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,950, and the median income for a family was $28,228. Males had a median income of $22,264 versus $19,704 for females. The per capita income for the city was $9,101. About 29.2% of families and 32.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.1% of those under age 18 and 14.8% of those age 65 or over.


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