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Community, Culture, and Spirit: The Pendleton Effect

Nestled in our nation’s Pacific Northwest, exists a city that hosts a vibrant presence intertwined with a rich history. Pendleton, Oregon has both embraced its multicultural heritage and fostered a strong sense of community. Between its captivating history and involvement of the tribes, Pendleton embraces a culture where individuals join together to support and celebrate one another, and the nature that surrounds them. 

It is also an environment in which the contributions of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) have influenced a way of life that embraces a legacy of spirit, survival, and mutual aid.  

History and Events of Pendleton

The history of Pendleton stretches back to the mid-1800’s. Prior to the arrival of settlers, it was home to several long-standing Native American presences in the region, many of whom contributed significantly to the land. As skilled river people, they lived in harmony with the environment around them, advocating for the natural resources and ways of simple life through practical survival.  

The city of Pendleton was built on land that once belonged to the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla Indian tribes. The tribes joined together, forming the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation (CTUIR) and through an agreement, 6.4 million acres were ceded in exchange for a reservation homeland of 250,000 acres. The tribe reserved the rights to fish, hunt, and gather foods and medicines on unclaimed lands. 

In the 1860’s, Pendleton became known as a trading post along the Oregon Trail. Its strategic location attracted settlers and merchants. The trail promoted the growth of Pendleton as a thriving frontier town, bolstering the attraction of people to its rich history and prestigious events.  

The city of Pendleton was incorporated on October 25, 1880, with a population of 730. The deep Western heritage continues to blossom in this town and the current population proves it, having grown to nearly 17,000 residents. 

Pendleton is well-known for its annual rodeo, which draws participants and onlookers from many corners of the world. The Pendleton Round Up has become a world-famous event and encompasses a sanctioned rodeo circuit and so much more. The September celebration is enhanced by the unique and integral contributions of the tribes who host parades, regalia, contests, event sponsorships, dancing, Native vendors, and the Happy Canyon Pageant. They establish camp in the village, where over 300 teepees are set up, allowing people to visit and take part in the festivities throughout the week. 

Pendleton is also home to the famous woolen mill. Opened in 1893, the plant served as a place to wash raw wool for shipping. Two years later, the mill was converted into a vessel for making wool blankets and robes for Native Americans. The ‘Pendleton’ brand of well-known vivid colors and intricate patterns continues to produce its world-renowned garments and blankets out of this famous mill.  

Tribal Business

Pendleton’s location on the outskirts of the CTUIR property has made it a viable spot for modern attractions. One of the largest employers in the county, the CTUIR owns and operates several ventures offering employment and entertainment opportunities to others. 

Opened in 1995 and located on the reservation, The Wildhorse Resort and Casino houses several attractions including a casino, an 18-hole golf course, a 24-lane bowling alley, nine restaurants and a food court, a 5-screen Cineplex, a full travel plaza, a tribal museum, RV park, and the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute.  

CTUIR also owns and operates the Hamley & Co. Western Store which includes a steakhouse and saloon, and a western apparel and accessory store located in downtown Pendleton. 

Situated seven miles east of the town of Pendleton, the Coyote Business Park is owned and operated by the CTUIR. It encompasses a 170-acre park that houses a diverse group of industries including technology, medical, logistics support services, retail, tourism, and hospitality. These enterprises generate revenue for the development and welfare of the tribal members and the community.   

Also included in the Coyote Business Park is Cayuse Holdings and its family of companies owned by the CTUIR. The 45,000 square foot building has the capacity to accommodate up to 450 employees. The state-of-the-art Technology Delivery Center has fully secure capabilities as a Network Operations Center (NOC) and Security Operations Center (SOC) supporting work with the Government, Department of Defense, and large corporations.  

The founder of Cayuse desired a solution that would provide the tribal community the opportunity to raise their families on their lands in balance with professional opportunities to earn a living and advance their careers. Many Native Americans live on the reservation to enjoy their family and community, to adhere to the faithfulness of tradition, and to continue life on the land. This makes the reservation a pivotal resource for an exceptionally stable workforce. Cayuse is a company centered around serving its people, serving its clients, and benefiting the environment in which it lives.  

Culture and Spirit

To this day, the Pendleton area remains home to a vibrant Native American community. The CTUIR continues to thrive on over 173,000 acres. More than half of the 3,100 tribal members live on or near the reservation. The tribes continue to maintain their traditions, customs, and governance systems within the reservation lands.  

While the lands and way of life have changed over the years, the CTUIR still holds strong to their ancestry and culture. Just as the way their forefathers did, today’s tribal members worship, dance, drum, sing, and continue to gather food from their lands.  

The success of Pendleton is greatly influenced and encouraged through reciprocation and togetherness. The involvement of the reservation with the local community creates a continuum in which the natural beauty and habitats are respected and preserved. Sustainable practices, responsible water and land management, and conservation are initiatives empowered by the Pendleton neighborhoods.  

A balance of service, tradition, and heritage helps provide opportunities for the Tribe and the community of Pendleton. The Cayuse family of companies are part of this tradition. They support the CTUIR by helping to generate revenue used for initiatives such as building schools, funding social programs, and repairing infrastructure.  

The Cayuse environment embraces a culture of professional, talented, diverse individuals. With the mission of ‘Grow the Company, Grow the People’, the Cayuse contribution spans beyond its workforce, reaching the tribes and the community, mirroring the effect that Native Americans have had on land, spirit, and culture for decades. 


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