July 13, 2012

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon


The Walla Walla (later called the Warm Springs), Wasco, and Paiute tribes collectively make up the modern day Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. Each tribe has its own unique history and heritage.

The Wascoes

The Wasco bands on the Columbia River were the eastern-most group of Chinookan-speaking Indians. Although they were principally fishermen, their frequent contact with other Indians throughout the region provided for abundant trade. Roots and beads were available from other Chinookan bands such as the Clackamas. Game, clothing and horses came from trade with Sahaptin bands such as the neighboring Warm Springs and the more distant Nez Perce. In exchange for these goods, the Wasco traded root bread, salmon meal, and bear grass.

The Warm Springs (Walla Walla)

The Warm Springs bands who lived along the Columbia’s tributaries spoke Sahaptin. Unlike the Wascoes, the Warm Springs bands moved between winter and summer villages, and depended more on game, roots and berries.

However, salmon was also an important staple for the Warm Springs bands and, like the Wascoes, they built elaborate scaffolding over waterfalls which allowed them to harvest fish with long-handled dip nets. Contact between the Warm Springs bands and the Wascoes was frequent, and, although they spoke different languages and observed different customs, they could converse and traded heavily.

The Paiutes

The Paiutes lived in southeastern Oregon and spoke a Shoshonean dialect. The lifestyle of the Paiutes was considerably different from that of the Wasco and Warm Springs bands. Their high-plains existence required that they migrate further and more frequently for game, and fish was not an important part of their diet.

The Paiute language was foreign to the Wasco and Warm Springs bands, and commerce among them was infrequent.

In early times, contact between them often resulted in skirmishes. Although Paiute territories historically included a large area from southeastern Oregon into Nevada, Idaho, and western Utah, the Paiute bands which eventually settled at Warm Springs lived in the area of Lake, Harney, and Malheur counties in Oregon.

Official Tribal Name:Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon

Address:  1233 Veterans St., Warm Springs, OR 97761
Phone:  (541) 553-1161
Fax:  (541) 553-1924

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Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

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Region: Plateau Region

State(s) Today: Oregon

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Reservations: Celilo Village, Warm Springs Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land
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In 1937, the three tribes organized as the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon by adopting a constitution and by-laws for tribal government.

Charter:  In 1938, they formally accepted a corporate charter from the United States for their business endeavors.
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In 1855, Joel Palmer, superintendent for the Oregon Territory, received his orders to clear the Indians from their lands. He did so by negotiating a series of Indian treaties including the one establishing the Warm Springs Reservation.

Under the treaty, the Warm Springs and Wasco tribes relinquished approximately ten million acres of land, but reserved the Warm Springs Reservation for their exclusive use. The tribes also kept their rights to harvest fish, game and other foods off the reservation in their usual and accustomed places. 

The settlement of the Paiutes on the Warm Springs Reservation began in 1879 when 38 Paiutes moved to Warm Springs from the Yakama Reservation. These 38 people, along with many other Paiutes, had been forced to move to the Yakama Reservation and Fort Vancouver after joining the Bannocks in a war against the U.S. Army. Eventually more of them came, and they became a permanent part of the Warm Springs Reservation.

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