Why Is Rattlesnake Mountain Off Limits to the Public? — I Found Out!
The Yakama Nation is upset with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for marketing wildflower tours on restricted areas of Rattlesnake Mountain. The area is restricted because of its cultural and religious significance to the local American Indians. What is the significance anyway?
Rattlesnake Mountain is called "Laliik" or "Land Above Water" by local tribes. It is believed this name comes from 13,000 years ago when the Mid Columbia was flooded and only the summits of Badger Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain stayed above the flood.
The Nez Perce, Umatilla, Wanapum, Cayuse, Walla Walla and Yakama tribes all consider the mountain sacred.
According to the lawsuit filed by the tribe, the mountain is where spirits ascend to heaven after death and is a popular site for seeking visions and spirit quests.