In this issue of the Gazette
, we are releasing our 2015 Pow Wow Calendar
. Since it is very early in the season, everything in it should be treated with caution. We try to be as accurate as possible but things change. If you decide to head out to one of the pow wows listed, always check ahead and have a backup plan just in case.
Grant County has no Indian reservations within its borders, but as this map of Oregon Indian Reservations shows, we are in the middle of Indian country just the same.
If you would like an interactive map where clicking on a tag will take you to the website for that reservation, go here
A special feature of this part of the John Day River valley is that it appears to be where the territories of the Columbia Basin tribes to the north and the desert dwelling tribes to the south overlapped.
I find that the answer to the question of exactly which tribe or tribes were native to this area depends very much on who you ask. The tribes were in competition for the resources of the region and raids were common. Even today one can encounter some traces of lingering hostility between certain tribes.
When the settlers arrived they became involved in these conflicts as well as adding some of their own. This area was the scene of the bloodiest clashes between natives and settlers in American history but it is largely forgotten today because the most intense fighting took place at the same time the American Civil War was being fought in the eastern US where the battles were both much bigger and much closer to major population centers.
A recurring event in the story of the settlers and the natives was when a few of one group committed an outrage upon the other and then a party of the victim group would go raiding and take vengeance on the first members they found of the other group who in every case had absolutely nothing to do with the original crime. Scalped settlers, massacred Indians, first one and then the other over and over. Sadly, this story is still relevant to today's news.
The Paiute side of the story before and during the coming of the settlers is told in Sarah Winnemucca Hopkin's book Life Among the Piutes
. Written 1882 by the daughter of Chief Winnemucca, it is the best account I know of of the relations between the natives and the settlers. Her account is peppered with familiar place names: \"Canyon City\", \"Camp Watson\" and \"Fox Valley\" so there is no question that the Paiutes frequented this region.
I wish I could find some equivalent account from the point of view of the Warm Springs tribes and the Umatilla and Cayuse of the Columbia basin. If one of my readers knows of something like this, please use the feedback page to let me know about it.
In the immediate vicinity of a reservation Indian culture is everywhere but anywhere in eastern Oregon, native Americans and their culture are a part of daily life.
Native Americans no longer have this region to themselves as they did in 1800 but they will remain an enduring presence in our community.