History & Community
First, the land provided. Full of flora and fauna native to the high desert, what is now the Warm Springs Reservation was a place with herds of elk, roaming big horned sheep, tall grasses and the flowing Deschutes. So rich was the land that planned agriculture was actually unnecessary; the land provided. It was here that the Warm Springs and Wasco bands thrived.
During the 1800s increasing immigration and white settlement disrupted this way of life. Land which once provided for the tribes’ economic, social and cultural needs was pilfered and misappropriated – in total ten million acres were lost.
Dozens of Paiutes were also forced to relocate to Warm Springs and are now one of the three tribes that comprise the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
The Reservation was officially formed in 1855 and traditional ways of life were further oppressed as federal policies, infrastructure and new economic and social structures were imposed.
The Commissary building, built in the early 1900s, held grains, provisions and household goods meant to replace the traditional way of economic and basic needs security. Albeit well-intentioned, it symbolized an oppression of the old way of life, a symbol of inferior replacements to the millions of acres lost, and a continued reminder of the forced dependence on government and external assistance.
Learn more about the history of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiute bands at the [Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs] official site [insert: warmsprings-nsn.gov/history].
Now, it’s time for a new way rooted in autonomy and agency, and which builds avenues for deep and sustained wealth among tribal members.
A multi-year process beginning in 2013 engaged tribal leaders, community members and the local business community. A 2015 survey of 50 current businesses owners and entrepreneurs found retail space and infrastructure were limited, and that the geographic isolation presented challenges. Further, many expressed they sought the skills and capital to grow or launch a business, yet nothing existed locally.
The idea of the Commissary project was born. A space that reclaimed a symbol of dependence and reimagined it as a beacon of economic opportunity and hope. In the past few years $1.2M has been raised for this $2.7M project. Be part of a new history in the making! Learn more about the project’s many supporters and its timeline for launch.
Who are we? We are the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs representing Warm Springs, Wasco, and Northern Paiute tribal members. We are 5,000 strong and growing and, with nearly 40% of our community comprised of children and young adults, we are a current generation and future generation of innovators, business owners, artists, economists, farmers, chefs, problem solvers, ecologists, entrepreneurs and so much more.