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When exploring Oregon, consider visiting Native nations

Oregon is home to nine federally recognized tribal nations spanning from the Idaho border to the Pacific Coast.
Credit: Nathan Howard, AP Photo
The sun rises over the landscape of the Warm Springs Reservation on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, near Warm Springs, Ore.

OREGON, USA — On Indigenous Peoples Day, Travel Oregon reminds us all that there are many opportunities to visit the rich homelands of Oregon's nine Native tribal nations. Spanning the length of the state from the Idaho border to the Pacific Coast, there are opportunities to explore the state's topography as well as abundant array of natural foods.

One opportunity to learn about Native culture here in Oregon is at the Chachalu Museum. Located on the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde reservation, the museum shares the story of how both the land and tribe have been revitalized after dual tragedies in 1856. One was a massive wildfire that swept through the region, the other was the forced relocation and genocide of Native peoples by white settlers. The museum celebrates the culture of the Kalapuya, Chinook, Tillamook, Molalla, Umpqua, Rogue River and Chasta bands that make up the Tribes of Grand Ronde. 

RELATED: Clackamas County celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with first in-person event

Moving down the coast and into the Cascade Range, you can explore the lands and cultures of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Here it's all about the natural beauty of the Oregon coast. From viewing endangered species at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge, to enjoying a walk at Devil's Lake State Recreation Area, there is plenty to do on the coast. For those who are hungry there are also opportunities to collect clams and other shellfish. Just be sure to buy a license!

Food is a huge part of what Native tribes here in Oregon have to offer and there is nothing quite like salmon. Although there are opportunities to attend traditional salmon feasts, these aren't always available to the general public. A great alternative however is the Native-owned Brigham Fish Market in Cascade Locks. The restaurant and market is operated by members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and offers local stock from fresh chinook to steelhead. With a market selling traditionally harvested salmon, and a restaurant creating culinary masterpieces like their ceviche and smothered ciabattas, there is something for everyone at the Brigham Fish Market. Additionally there are opportunities to buy wholesale salmon harvested by native fishermen at Wild Columbia Salmon.

RELATED: Native salmon population on the rise in Sandy River Basin

Many tribes here in Oregon have created events and developed attractions to share their culture. However, many of these events have been developed with a balance in mind to respect the needs of Native communities and the environment, while allowing access to non-tribal members. For that reason, it is crucial to only attend events that are advertised to the general public, show respect to Native artifacts, locations, and burial sites, and always avoid taking photos without permission.

Click here for a full guide on visiting Oregon's nine tribes, courtesy of Travel Oregon.

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