Treaty Days Returns After Three-Year Hiatus | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Treaty Days Returns After Three-Year Hiatus

One of Warm Springs biggest events, including competitive dances, a rodeo and parade, is back after three years of COVID closures


he Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days celebration is back after three years of COVID-era closures. The weekend-long event from June 23 through June 25 is a 54-year-old tradition on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, commemorating the signing of the Treaty of 1855. That treaty ceded about 10 million acres of land to the United States and established the 650,000-acre reservation along with provisions for funding of health care facilities and schools.

click to enlarge Treaty Days Returns After Three-Year Hiatus
Courtesy of Jayson Smith via KWSO

The treaty was between about 150 members of the Warm Springs and Wasco bands that lived on the Columbia River and its tributaries. About 25 years after the treaty established the reservation, members of the Northern Paiute joined after being forced out of Nevada following the Bannock War. All three tribes participate in the Treaty Days, with different families hosting events during the weekend.

"All the three tribes participate, and on Saturday, we have one family putting on the meal between the afternoon session and listening session. On Sunday, the Pow Wow Committee, which is my family, we put on the Sunday dinner before they hand out awards," said Robinson Mitchell, chair of the Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days.

click to enlarge Treaty Days Returns After Three-Year Hiatus
Courtesy of Jayson Smith via KWSO
A group competes in a powwow at the 2016 Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days.

The Treaty of 1855 is a historic step for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, but it was just the first step toward self-governance. During the early years on the reservation, tribal communities had to adjust to a less bountiful river, poor soil conditions, a harsher climate and an economic system that was no longer workable. Additionally, government programs attempted to assimilate Indian people into modern economies and away from traditional ways of living.

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs gained further rights to self-govern after signing the treaty, first in the Tribal Constitution in 1938, after the Indian Reorganization Act attempted to reverse the goal of cultural assimilation β€” though policies geared toward assimilation continued through much of the 20th Century.

In 1992, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs declared its national sovereignty and its right to govern the land, people and resources on the reservation free from outside interference. Treaty Days commemorates the treaty with traditional powwows, which are competitive dance events, and a rodeo, athletic competitions and horse races. The theme of the Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days is "Honoring Those who Walked Before Us."

click to enlarge Treaty Days Returns After Three-Year Hiatus
Courtesy of Jayson Smith via KWSO
Women in traditional clothing march in the Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days Parade.

"That's for our past. Pi-Ume-Sha committee members, the chairman and Secretary β€” because we've just recently lost our chairman in December, which was my oldest brother. It's been a family event going since 1974," Mitchell said.

The events at Treaty Days, like the rodeo and parade, are organized by separate groups, but under an umbrella that converges around the reservation.

"We all tie in, and everything ends up back down at the Powwow Grounds, which is down behind the community center in the middle of one swing," Mitchell said. "A lot of people are looking forward, because in our community, this is one of the big events that we have here."

Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days
Fri. June 23 - Sun. June 25
Warm Springs Community Center
2200 Hollywood Blvd., Warm Springs

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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