Travel Oregon highlights the activities and history of Native communities
“Travel Guide to Oregon Indian Country,” recently released by Travel Oregon, is a collaboration with Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes that highlights tourism assets and cultural resources around tribal lands.
“We wanted the guide to really help visitors understand and really respect the attractions on nearby tribal lands and for people to really see where the tribes have invested in welcoming visitors,” said Lisa Itel, director of global strategic partnerships. at Travel Oregon.
The guide features profiles on each of the nine tribes: Grand Ronde Confederate Tribes, Burns Paiute Tribe, Coos Confederate Tribes, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Coquille Indian Tribe, Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, the Klamath Tribes, Confederate Tribes of Siletz Indians, Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs.
It aims to provide inspiration for visiting tribal areas and includes information on tribal museums, casinos, outdoor activities and events.
“We’ve been hosting people here in this country for about 250 years, and a number of tribes in Oregon have actually built facilities to welcome people to Oregon and allow them to spend money in our communities. “, said Bobbie Conner, director of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. said. “Tribes bring economic stability to our communities.”
“Driven by the Tribes”
Travel Oregon published a similar guide in 2005, but felt it was missing key voices in the conversation, Itel said. In 2019, Travel Oregon reached out to the tribes in hopes of building a relationship. These conversations sparked the idea of bringing together a working group to create a new travel guide.
The process of creating this guide was more collaborative, said Conner, who is enrolled in the Confederate Tribes of Umatilla.
She said this time there was more dialogue about how each tribe wanted the guide to come together, and there was a deeper investment in building community around the tourism goals.
“It was something that was really important to us,” Itel said. “To make sure that this guide was really led by the tribes.”
The individuality of each tribe was an important aspect to convey, said Travis Hill, chief operating officer of the Umpqua Indian Development Corporation and a member of the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians.
The guide needed to represent the diversity of the entire state, he said. They didn’t want to focus on one tribe or region.
“We wanted people to be able to tell regions apart, tell tribes apart, and see that there are nine different federally recognized tribes in Oregon and we’re all very different from each other,” Conner said.
Travel Oregon initially printed 100,000 copies of the guide and has already distributed about 35,000 copies, Itel said.
Raising awareness among the tribes
Conner said that in addition to attracting new visitors, another goal is to raise awareness of the tribes. She said the partnership with Travel Oregon opens doors for other projects and collaboration down the line.
“Now that Travel Oregon knows who we are, what we do, how to communicate with us, I think it will be a breakthrough in the industry,” she said.
Along with producing the guide, Travel Oregon has also expanded its tribal content footprint online. The website has a new Tribal Nations page that lists tribal travel ideas, attractions, events and more by tribes by region.
Future collaborations are something Hill hopes to see. He said he’d like to revisit the guide and potentially dig deeper into some of the other opportunities the tribes are working on.
“There are these annual events that the public can attend and are welcome to attend, but it’s one of those things that often isn’t really posted on Facebook or social media,” said Hill, who is registered at the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua. Indian tribe. “But if we could use that as a constant resource or a funnel for people to know where to go for that kind of information, that could be a good resource.”
Activities on tribal lands
The Grand Ronde Confederate Tribes include a host of native tribes from the northwest and are based in the foothills of the Coast Range, 60 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles northwest of Salem.
The area offers attractions such as the Spirit Mountain Casino and the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center, as well as many outdoor recreation sites.
Black Rock Mountain, about an hour west of Salem, offers a network of free-ride mountain bike trails. Its trails have even earned the “Epic Ride” designation from the International Mountain Bike Association.
For a quieter outdoor adventure closer to town (15 minutes west of Salem), the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge offers birding opportunities. The sanctuary spans over 2,500 acres of marsh and grassland and is a popular spot for migrating waterfowl.
Camping is offered at Big Buck Campground, located on tribal land in Grand Ronde. It has campsites available for tents and RVs as well as access to several miles of maintained trails.
Further down Interstate 5 is the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indian Tribe. Home to the Seven Feathers Casino Resort, the area offers many other activities included in the guide.
“We’re right in the middle of the Umpqua Valley, so we have the Umpqua National Forest with lots of trails, we have great waterfalls. Crater Lake is in our backyard,” Hill said, “there’s so has a lot of outdoor opportunities here.”
In addition to hiking, mountain biking and camping, the area also offers renowned fly fishing on the North Umpqua River.