At the beginning of the nineteenth century breech-cloth and moccasins were the usual garments for both Yakama sexes. About that time began a change, which eventually resulted in the adoption of the complete plains style of dress. At the earlier period men cut the hair square in front and did not braid it. Ear-pendants were elk-teeth or dentalium shells, but nose ornaments, according to native information, were not in use. The Nez Perces, however, make the same denial, although it is known that they pierced the septum and wore nose ornaments, and it is probable that the same custom existed among the Yakama.
In the summer they used the tipi form of dwelling with mat covering. The permanent winter lodge was of somewhat similar construction, but the ground-plan was a much-flattened ellipse, and the walls were banked with earth to a height of about three feet. Such houses were as much as a hundred feet in length, and each sheltered a number of related families. Another style of winter house was rectangular, with steep-sloping walls, and truncated roof, supported on eight forked posts, the whole being thatched with poles, brush, and matting. The flat-roofed, underground room common to the plateau region of the North-west was used as a common meeting-place for the women during the winter days.
The principal foods of the Yakama were salmon, fresh and dried; a great variety of roots and berries, particularly camas and huckleberries; the flesh of deer and of other mountain game.