The Oregon Trail and Native Heritage are woven into Oregon history in many varied ways.
The Oregon Trail was a 2,170-mile, large-wheeled wagon route, from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon, used by hundreds of thousands of American pioneers to emigrate west in in the mid-1800s. The trail was filled with peril – potential accidents, ailments, and steep climbs, and crossing through Indian territories – but it paved the way for the United States to expand to the west.
Contrary to popular Hollywood depictions, most Indians were tolerant, helpful even, of the pioneer wagons that drove through their lands, at least initially. Over time, relationships between the Indians and pioneers deteriorated. The passing of the Oregon Donation Land Act, encouraged settlement into the area in 1850. Slowly relations improved. Today Interstate 84 passes through towns originally established to serve those using the Oregon Trail. There are currently nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon: Burns Paiute of Harney County; Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians; Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; Confederated Tribes of Siletz; Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation; Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs; Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians; Coquille Indian Tribe; and Klamath Tribes.
Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, located on the Umatilla Reservation, about 15-minutes from Pendleton, is the only tribal-run museum that highlights the history and culture of Native Americans along the Oregon Trail. While there, visit the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts – it’s the only fine-print studio on a reservation.
The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center offers living history demonstrations, interpretive programs, exhibits, multi-media presentations, special events, and more than four miles of interpretive trails. The outdoor wagon encampment, trails and access to the historic ruts are open daily. Located five miles east of Baker City, on Highway 86, Exit 302 from Interstate 84, 125 miles northwest of Boise, 95 miles southeast of Pendleton.
The Museum at Warm Springs houses a large collection of North American Indian artifacts. 2189 US-26 in Warm Springs.
Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center tells the story of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde — the community, Tribe, and culture that has persisted despite the challenges. 9615 Grand Ronde Road
In Grand Ronde.
The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art at the Portland Art Museum has a Native American art collection with 3,500 prehistoric and historic objects created by some 200 cultural groups from throughout North America. 1219 SW Park Avenue in Portland.
The Oregon trail of Waterfalls represents countless hours, many sketches, and endless conversations to help make your next Oregon road trip one to remember. We look forward to seeing you soon. Please complete the form below to receive your free limited edition map now, while supplies last! If you prefer to view a digital version of the map or if you’re outside the U.S. or Canada, click here.
NEXT: Click on each image below to create your own epic Oregon road trip! Click here to view a digital map with interactive links.
We look forward to seeing you on the Oregon Trail!