Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 638
73239 Confederated Way
Pendleton, OR 97801

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation is made up of three tribes namely the Cayuse, the Umatilla and the Walla Walla. These three tribes altogether form the cultural group called the Plateau Culture. Aside from them, the Plateau Culture involves the Nez Perce Bands of Idaho and Washington, Yakama Bands of Central Washington as well as the Wasco and Warm Springs bands of North Central Oregon. Together with the others, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation make up the Sahaptin Language group meaning, each of these tribes spoke of a distinct dialect from the Sahaptin Language. The difference in languages soon declined through the years. Their traditions varies from tribe to tribe but are generally connected with each other. The Cayuse, Umatilla and the Walla Walla people have their own culture enriched through time. These three have merged their different traditions in a carefully-woven ancestry. They value respect for elders. The elders teach the younger generation to work on hunting, fishing, harvesting berries and root crops. These tribes are also fond of singing and dancing, and they have distinct dance moves. They love celebrations and festivities. The elders teach the younger generation to preserve their heritage as they think it is the key to keeping their tribe alive.
Their food preferences are not far from the tastes of the modern times. Since the nineteenth century, they have learned to thrive on fish and agriculture. Having spent most of their history in the Northeastern Oregon and the Southeastern Washington, they had no means of hunting buffalo. Instead, they fed on salmon, roots, berries and other fruits readily available in their area. They moved from region to region in search of food for different seasons. During springtime, most of them were settled along the Columbia River. Spring meant settling in places such as the Celilo Falls for fishing, and trading business. The tribe found another way to preserve their food for winter that is, by drying the fish. By doing so, they are able to preserve their food for winter. They also traveled to the mountains to gather berries as well as dig up roots. In summer, their favorite food becomes the huckleberries which are found in the mountains. They also held huckleberries game hunting. Similarly, they pounded Chokecherries and incorporated it with meat, salmon or to make pemmican. Since then, they have also mastered the art of baking by making use of Black moss and some camas bulbs. Their love for food is very much visible in their celebrations.
The Cayuse, Umatilla and the Walla Walla people have invented a housing style which was of their own. Their homes were called longhouse. This longhouse is made from lodgepoles and reaches up to eighty feet in extent. 
Nowadays, the tribe has 2,857 members and they have several business enterprises. Some of their business ventures are the Wildhorse Casino Resort, Tamastslikt Cultural Institue, Cayuse Technologies, Yaka Energy, Arrowhead Travel Plaza, Mission Market and the Indian Lake Recreational Area.

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