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Warm Springs Indian Reservation

map of the Warm Springs reservation
The high desert in Warm Springs Indian Reservation with Mount Jefferson in the background.

The Warm Springs Indian Reservation consists of 1,019.385 sq mi (2,640.194 km²) in north central Oregon, in the United States, and is occupied and governed by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.


  • Tribes 1
  • Creation 2
  • Geography 3
  • Demographics 4
  • Culture 5
  • Economy 6
    • Indian Head Casino 6.1
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Three women photographed on the reservation in 1902.

Three tribes form the confederation: the Wasco, Tenino (Warm Springs) and Paiute. Since 1938 they have been unified as the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.


The reservation was created by treaty in 1855, which defined its boundaries as follows:

Commencing in the middle of the channel of the Deschutes River opposite the eastern termination of a range of high lands usually known as the Mutton Mountains; thence westerly to the summit of said range, along the divide to its connection with the Cascade Mountains; thence to the summit of said mountains; thence southerly to Mount Jefferson; thence down the main branch of Deschutes River; heading in this peak, to its junction with Deschutes River; and thence down the middle of the channel of said river to the place of beginning.

The Warm Springs and Wasco bands gave up ownership rights to 10,000,000-acre (40,000 km2) area, which they had inhabited for over 10,000 years, in exchange for basic health care, education, and other forms of assistance as outlined by the Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon (June 25, 1855). Other provisions of the Treaty of 1855 ensured that tribal members retained hunting and fishing rights in the "Natural and Accustomed Area" which they had vacated. These treaty hunting and fishing rights are rights that were retained by the tribe and are not "special rights" granted by the U.S. government. [1]

In 1879, the U.S. government moved a small group of Paiutes to the reservation in spite of that tribe's history of conflict with Columbia River tribes.


The reservation lies primarily in parts of Wasco County and Jefferson County, but there are smaller sections in six other counties; in descending order of land area they are: Clackamas, Marion, Gilliam, Sherman, Linn and Hood River counties. (The Hood River County portion consists of tiny sections of non-contiguous off-reservation trust land in the northeast corner of the county.) The reservation is 105 miles (170 km) southeast of Portland; 348,000 acres (544 sq mi / 1408 km²), over half, is forested. Its 2000 census total population was 3,314 inhabitants.


The reservations's only significant population center is the community of Warm Springs, (also known as the Warm Springs Agency) which comprises over 73 percent of the reservation's population.


Like the Grand Ronde Agency in western Oregon, the Warm Springs Reservation is one of the last holdouts in the U.S. of speakers of the Chinook Jargon because of its utility as an inter-tribal language. The forms of the Jargon used by elders in Warm Springs vary considerably from the heavily-creolized form at Grand Ronde.

Kiksht, Numu and Ichishkiin Snwit languages are taught in the Warm Springs Reservation schools.[1]


In 1964, the first part of the Kah-nee-ta resort was completed—Kah-nee-ta Village—a lodging complex with a motel, cottages and tipis.

As of 2003, the reservation was home to a tribal enrollment of over 4200. The biggest source of revenue for the tribes are hydroelectric (Warm Springs Power Enterprises) projects on the Deschutes River. The tribes also operate Warm Springs Forest Products Industries.

Many tribal members engage in ceremonial, subsistence, and commercial fisheries in the Columbia River for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. Tribal members also fish for salmon and steelhead for subsistence purposes in the Deschutes River, primarily at Sherars Falls. Tribal members also harvest Pacific Lamprey at Sherars Falls and Willamette Falls. The tribe's fishing rights are protected by treaty and re-affirmed by court cases such as Sohappy v. Smith and United States v. Oregon.

Indian Head Casino

The Indian Head Casino on U.S. Route 26 opened in February 2012. It has 18,000 square feet (1,700 m2) of gaming space,[2] with 500 slot machines and 8 blackjack tables.[3] The tribes expect the casino to net $9 to 12 million annually.[4]

The casino previously operated at Kah-Nee-Ta, where it had only 300 slot machines and made $2 to 4 million a year.[5] The new location was intended to be more accessible to travelers, but the tribes consider it temporary until their proposed Columbia River Gorge casino can be built.

See also


  • Warm Springs Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land, Oregon United States Census Bureau
  1. ^ Joanne B. Mulcahy (2005). "Warm Springs: A Convergence of Cultures" (Oregon History Project). Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  2. ^ Novet, Jordan (July 30, 2011). "What's going up? Indian Head Casino on Warm Springs reservation". The Bulletin (Bend, OR). Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ Nogueras, David (February 2, 2012). "New casino set to open along Highway 26". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ Marlowe, Erin Foote (February 15, 2012). "A New Beginning: Indian Head Casino gives Warm Springs chance for economic development". The Source Weekly (Bend, OR). Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  5. ^ Taylor, Duffie (January 25, 2012). "New casino, new location: Warm Springs tribes are betting on a site a little closer to Bend". The Bulletin (Bend, OR: via NewsBank). Retrieved 2012-05-31.  (subscription required)

External links

  • Home Page of Warm Springs
  • Warm Spring Forest Products Industries website
  • Text of Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon, 1855 from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission - member tribes include the Warm Springs
  • Lifelong Learning Online Project
  • Indian Head Casino
  • Warm Springs Reservation at Facebook

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