How regional tourism impacts Tribal lands: Bend and Warm Springs Reservation

Marge Kalama
Jamie Sterling

9 July 2024

“We look out for our land base because this is all we’ve got, and because this is all we have, we need to take care of it.” — Marjorie Kalama

Bend, Oregon’s growing tourism industry greatly impacts the surrounding region. On the nearby Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation, Native American communities are stewarding tourism sites and looking ahead to new opportunities. For those communities and for Bend, viewing tourism as a regional partnership is crucial for sharing the economic benefits and reducing unnecessary strain on the environment. 

Roughly 50 percent of visitors to Bend pass through the reservation along Highway 26, making it a key part of the Bend travel experience and a potential destination in its own right. Marjorie Kalama, an Indigenous bead artist and radio producer in Warm Springs, sees plenty of opportunities to attract visitors to the reservation and partner with the region’s DMO, Visit Bend.

At the same time, she recognizes that access and capacity need to be limited, development must be well-managed, and the “lands need to be taken care of.” In a place where protecting nature is a shared value, and where ways of living have been noticeably affected by swimmers’ tanning lotion in the river, for example, small changes can have big disruptions. That makes thoughtful collaborations essential. For the Warm Springs community, it’s not just about land, it’s about connection to land, which determines how areas can be used. She envisions a future where the community reinvests the money it generates into projects that will best support its residents and maintain its resources for future generations.

Ultimately, whether a partner or a visitor, Marge encourages people to work with Indigenous people, including youth and Elders, to ask questions and to be respectful. It’s about seeking out their stories and ways of knowing to understand and appreciate their authenticity. 

On this episode of Travel Beyond, you’ll also learn:

  • Why it’s important that Bend-based tourism funds are spreading beyond the city.
  • How communities in Warm Springs Reservation have adjusted visitor behaviour to preserve the environment.
  • Opportunities tourism can bring to help care for the land.
  • What it’s like to share Native American culture with visitors. 
  • Advice for destinations looking to work with local Indigenous communities.


Subscribe to Travel Beyond through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast player.

Show notes

Burke Museum – A natural history museum located on the University of Washington campus in Seattle with a focus on dinosaurs, fossils, Northwest Native art, plant and animal collections, and cultural pieces.

Cascade Mountains – A major mountain range extending from northern California to central British Columbia.

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs – A federally recognized Native American tribe made up of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Northern Paiute Tribes who organized and adopted a constitution and by-laws for tribal government in 1937.  

Mount Hood – The highest mountain in Oregon, an area known for its outdoor recreation, especially snowsports. 

Tananáwit – A program that provides Warm Springs artists and community members with new economic and educational opportunities.

Warm Springs Community Action Team – A non-profit community development organization located on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Episode transcript

Sara Raymond de Booy: Hello and welcome to Travel Beyond, where we partner with leading destinations to bring you inspiring solutions to the greatest challenges facing communities and the planet. I’m Sara Raymond de Booy, Associate Creative Director at Destination Think. I’m recording from Seattle, Washington on Coast Salish land, specifically that of the Duwamish, Suquamish, Stillaguamish, and Muckleshoot people.

David Archer: And I’m David Archer from Destination Think. I’m recording from Daajing Giids, British Columbia, a village in Haida Gwaii, the territory of the Haida Nation. On this show, we look at the role of travel and highlight destinations that are global leaders. We talk to the changemakers who are addressing regenerative travel through action in their communities and often from the bottom up.

Sara Raymond de Booy: And we’re actively looking for the best examples of efforts to regenerate economies, communities, and ecosystems. So be sure to reach out if you have a story to share with us.

David Archer: And last time we learned about Central Oregon LandWatch, the watchdog organization that is keeping tabs on how lands and waters are used in the region. And we heard about how they’re balancing urban, rural, and natural landscapes so that everything works nicely together in a balance. And the city of Bend is just one piece of that puzzle. 

Sara Raymond de Booy: Today we’re taking a road trip just north of Bend to the community of Warm Springs, which is located on the Warm Springs Reservation. The reservation is home to the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Northern Paiute tribes. There’s a population of about 3,000 living on the reservation and it’s about an hour and 15 minutes away from Bend.

Most travellers to Bend will pass through the reservation if they’re arriving by car, especially, definitely if they’re coming from Seattle or Portland.

David Archer: Yeah, and it’s here that we meet Indigenous bead artist and radio producer Marjorie Kalama. She’s a host at the local KWSO radio station, and she has a lot to say about the community, the local culture, and how tourism affects the reservation. 

 Like you mentioned, a lot of Bend’s visitors pass through Warm Springs. Highway 26 goes through the reservation, and that’s the route between Portland and Bend, passing Mount Hood on the way. So there’s plenty of skiers and other road trippers that use that to go back and forth. That means two things. Warm Springs is part of the Bend travel experience for many people, and also Warm Springs might be a destination for people who are staying in Bend.

So it benefits both Bend and Warm Springs to think about tourism as a region and as a partnership.

Sara Raymond de Booy: Yes, especially when you think about visitors traveling through Warm Springs and how they impact the place. If they’re road tripping to Bend, they’re also stopping along the way to explore as they commute there. And while the money they eventually bring to Bend’s hotels and restaurants, etc. when they get to their final destination helps the city, it doesn’t always directly help Warm Springs, even though they’re still being impacted by that trip to Bend. 

And in episode one this season, Serena mentioned the many partnerships Visit Bend has been pursuing, including the one with the Warm Springs Community Action Team, a non-profit that helps people and small businesses gain financial independence.

It’s nice to see the regional support at work, and that includes funding to manage the tourism experiences that keep the region in business, as Marjorie tells us in this interview.

David Archer: Yeah, and I want to stop on that point for a second because you and I are familiar with DMOs, but I’m not sure it’s always obvious to people who aren’t in the game, so to speak, that destination organizations provide a means to gather and distribute funding as a collective, um, and they’re kind of uniquely positioned that way.

The funds Visit Bend collects are going beyond Bend to impact the region. Why do you think that’s such an important role for DMOs in most places? 

Sara Raymond de Booy: Yeah, so – with background on some of these programs, it’s not something everybody does, but we’re starting to hear about programs like this more and more. And what funds can be spent on will vary depending on an organization’s mandate. Gathering these funds is hopefully a tool that can take care of local communities and the environment, and they can be gathered in many ways. Sometimes through a tax, other times through a voluntary program. There’s a good example on the Tofino season with Tribal Parks Allies. If anybody’s interested in learning about different ways that these funds can be gathered. 

I think it’s also important to think of these as a tool to show community how tourism is benefiting them. These actual projects are funded by tourism, and there’s a very clear connection because money is being gathered by a DMO, and it is being distributed to projects that are helping residents. So it’s a much more tangible way for a community to see how money is being brought in by visitors and how that is being clearly reinvested into their communities. It kind of shows what’s going on behind the curtain a little bit and can hopefully take away a little bit of the, uh, the friction between residents and tourism sometimes.

David Archer: Yeah, and this is, it’s been an ongoing trend for the last, I don’t know, decade, at least, for the mandates of these destinations, like you mentioned, they, they vary quite a bit. And so what funds might’ve been used for promotion in another year might now be used for more destination management. So things are changing. 

Marjorie has a lot more to share with us today about the opportunities and challenges of tourism in Warm Springs, and we’ll go now to the conversation she had with our colleague, Josie Van Der Velden.

Marjorie Kalama: Okay. My name is Marjorie Kalama Gabriel, and I am a DJ producer at KWSO Radio Station, 91.9 FM. And I am an artist at Warm Springs, uh, Tananawit Artisan Group. And I’ve been bead working since I’ve been 19, well 18, and I’ve been collecting beads all my life. And I do beadwork, um, daily. About six hours a day. 

Josie Van Der Velden: How long have you lived in this area?

Marjorie Kalama: I’ve lived in this area about 50 years. I grew up at Mount Hood. I was a skier and a swimmer at Sandy High School. And I totally enjoyed my athletics. I was also a, um, a dogger. The dogger is a, uh, goes with the hunters and I have to go down into the canyon and chase everything up.

Josie Van Der Velden: Very cool. Also athletic. Yeah.

What do you think makes Central Oregon and this place so special relative to the rest of the U.S.?

Marjorie Kalama: Central Oregon is a high desert, which means that we’re warm in daytime and cold at night. That’s Oregon weather for you, but we live it daily. Central Oregon has water, clean water coming from the Cascade Mountains and we’re all along the shelf of the Cascades.

Central Oregon will always be beautiful with the snow capped mountains – and so we’re, we’re in a very beautiful spot. And we have fisheries, we have hunting, we have game, wild game, we have ranchers, we have loggers, we are a mix of our culture of the West.

Josie Van Der Velden: Yeah, there is, it does feel like there’s a lot of things kind of coming in, you know, culminating in this one place, all the different environments.


Marjorie Kalama: It’s beautiful. 

Josie Van Der Velden: So you, we said you, you usually work on your beading for, like, six hours a day. You’ve got the radio show that you’re doing. What do you do, um, when you’re not working?

Marjorie Kalama: Well, when I’m not working, I like to, um, plant flowers, and I like to take care of my plants and my animals. I have two dogs, and my house. Uh, I’ve, I own a home, and I’ve, it was, it was a prayer answered when I, I received this home. It was designed for me. When they, they reconstructed it, the contractor knew I beadworked, so he made me a whole beadworking area. So I was really fortunate that I got to talk with the contractor, and he listened to me, and made me a beautiful environment to work in.

Josie Van Der Velden: Oh, that’s so special. Can you tell us a little bit about where you learned, um, first learned beading?

Marjorie Kalama: My first, uh, introduction to beadwork was my mother. We sat down like this by a fire and we were, uh, she pulled out her beads. She goes, here, you’re going to learn how to bead. I said, what am I going to bead? And so we started with mocks and she kind of showed me how to, uh, do moccasins. Because there’s a certain way for our, uh, Nez Perce moccasins are compared to, like, the Navajo moccasins and the, you know, other kinds of, um, Plateau moccasins, in Montana.

So we kind of, she kind of taught me that. But from there, I, I carried it. And I continued to save beads. And then I looked at my great grandmother’s beadwork. And you’ll see that later on, hopefully. My great grandmother’s beadwork was with small beads. And I didn’t understand how small. But they were small, and they used sinew to sew down their beads.

So, those old-timing, um, beadworkers were perfectionists and I take my hat off to them. So they were the ones who encouraged me to be more perfection and, and take time with my beadwork, was taught by my great grandmother’s work.

Josie Van Der Velden: That’s such an important lesson in life as well, to just take time and move slowly. Um, how are you passing beadwork along to the next generations?

Marjorie Kalama: Well, I’ve been asked to do, like, training for the Miss, Little Miss Warm Springs. I’ll be doing that, like, in the next month or so and I’ll be teaching them the different techniques of beadwork with two needles, one needle, a peyote stitch, looming, and those kinds of different styles of beadwork. I’d like to introduce them to those kinds of beadwork styles and then they as individuals will pick up which, which style that they’ll go with.

Josie Van Der Velden: Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun. Um, why is it important to pass along the art, the crafts of these artistic, um, kind of histories in the culture.

Marjorie Kalama: It’s important to pass along the history of our culture, because it kind of teaches us how our Elders were when they were, um, busy. They were busy making things, collecting, collecting from nature.

And the work that I do, I went to the Burke Museum. I am doing the same kind of work that the people, the Grand Ship people did in the day that you’ll see in the museum. So I looked at their work and I looked at mine and I go, oh, yes, I’m learning right. You know, and it’s because it’s a connection with the past.

And so what you’re doing when you’re beadworking today, you’re connecting with the future. And so when I try to beadwork, I do a story so that they can see that you can make stories out of your beadwork. There are other stories I’d love to bead really, you know, faster, but it takes me time. It took me five years to do one vest.

And, and, you know, you, you, you don’t put a schedule on it. It’s, it’s, it’s with you and, and it keeps talking to you. And, and when I had to put it down, but it told me, well, it’s kind of like told me, pick me up now and finish me. And so I did. 

Josie Van Der Velden: Wow. Five years. That’s such a beautiful commitment.

Marjorie Kalama: Mm hmm.

Josie Van Der Velden: Can you tell us a little bit about Warm Springs and, you know, if you had to pick like two or three things that you really want people to know about the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and what it’s like here, what would that be?

Marjorie Kalama: Warm Springs, uh, population, there’s 5,000, um, enrolled members here and 3,000 of those live here on the reservation. Um, they are committed to each family. Their family are strong people and we believe in our Elders. And we believe in our children, too. And we know that our children are our future. 

And we, we know that, I think we believe we’ve kind of let them down. So what we want to, what I’d like to see more is more dedication from our Elders, um, to the to the younger people, you know, and that’s one of my goals, is, is to help the younger people. But still I will never forget my Elders because that’s where I was taught how to be strong, how to overcome, how to, um, handle grief and happiness, and how to be humble. You know, those are key things when you’re walk, you’re walk in life.

Sometimes you have to accept what happens to you and, and understand that you’re going to live beyond this and what you do after something that happens to you is up to you, you know. And that’s how Elders and they always taught me, take care of each other. I’ve always remembered that, take care of each other.

Josie Van Der Velden: Such important lessons for life. What challenges does the Warm Springs community face?

Marjorie Kalama: Our lifestyle has changed drastically in 150 years when they brought us to this, this, um, reservation. But at the time, it was just fishing and hunting, you know, and root digging and, and collecting foods.

You know, we were happy at that time, but now we’re into an economic, um, like everybody else, you depend on the stores, you depend on other things, you depend on other people, but we’re, we’re trying. We’re trying, we still collect our foods. We still collect and honor our, our four-leggeds and our winged and our fin people.

You know, we still honor those as being part of us. And as you can see, uh, our reservation isn’t developed. We don’t have a lot of electricity along the rims of the mountainsides. Those are left for nature for the, uh, animals and, and the foods of our, of our people. We, we still will rely on those. Because when you get older, you can’t eat all the food that you buy because it’s not good for you. And so what we’re finding is the older foods that our Elders had are good for us, and they don’t bother our, our, our being, you know? So that’s a good training that our people know is that we need to continue our foods and, and honor those.

Josie Van Der Velden: Absolutely. How have things, you know, you mentioned obviously the development, the economic transition, the way of life from, uh, you know, what’s sustaining you. Um, how else have things been changing around here in the last little while?

Marjorie Kalama: In the last little while, the things as we, as everybody knows, it’s the, um, drugs, drugs, alcohol has always been here. But it’s the other synthetic drugs that are coming. And those are, those are scary because our, our younger people are passing before the older people, and that’s what scares us, and that’s part of the change. And, um, handling that and, and trying to teach our kids.

That’s what we’re trying to teach our kids. Those are not the way. Those will not bring you to where you want to be. It’s just like a lie, you know. But people do seek those. They seek it because some people are self medicating. They, they have lost so much in their life that there’s nothing that can help them except for a delirious being. And it’s hard to save those people. But I guess that’s where it says, help them, you know, as much as you can help them and know that where they’re at. But that’s the change that has affected us the most.

Josie Van Der Velden: Yeah, for sure. Tell us a little bit about, um, some of the programs available in Warm Springs that are, that are here to support the community? I think, for example, like the Warm Springs Community Action Team you were mentioning. Can you tell us a little bit about that team, or if there’s any other programs like that that are, that have, uh, kind of sprung up?

Marjorie Kalama: Yeah. Um, one, one thing I’d like to do a little shout out to is the Tribal Council. They’re a young group of people and they’ve been active in our community. So with the Tribal Council, they continue to be active in our community and amongst our regional, regional tribes. So that’s a big plus for us to have our Tribal Council active. And then our human resources has been helping and identifying. There’s young people in there too. There’s young leaders in there and that’s what I’m seeing is young leaders are, are, are stepping up and, and they’re, and they’re saying we can do it. But it’s with the help of the programs, the funding programs. 

There was the time when we relied on just our tribal monies. Well, we ran out of tribal monies, and so we learned to, um, write grants and, you know, seek funds. And those funds are being utilized the way they’re supposed to be utilized, with the young people, with the old people, with the, um, disadvantaged, and with the people in distress, and the foods. 

During the pandemic, we received food and water from a lot of donators. And that was, you know, it’s you sit there and you say, people do know who we are. People do want to help us, you know, and that’s something that is a blessing. And the programs that are coming, like the WSCAT, Warm Springs Community Action Team, that came from off the reservation onto the reservation, and they started doing IDAs, individual, um, bank accounts. It’s kind of like individual development plans, or something like that. 

And so a person can save money and they’ll get matched for like a new car or for a home or for education. And you know, they’re, they’re teaching people how to buy into themselves. You know, you can fix yourself and that’s what the IDA program has been teaching us.

So those kinds of programs are really helpful. The, um, IDA that, um, IDA has helped me with my beadworking, uh, purchases, you know, so that helped me buy some beads and bug skin and things I really needed. And, and the IDA helped me with that. And it, and I bought into myself, you know, the, Tananawit program, which is the Tananawit artists’ shop has over a hundred artists in it. It took us about five, six, seven years to get where we are today. But the artists are, are looking at themselves. They can help themselves. They do their own beadwork, and we help them sell that. It’s a venue for them, and they don’t have to go, you know, house to house or sit on the corner or anything like that. They can come to us and we will help them. So it’s worked out really good together with the help of other people who reach out, they actually reach out to us.


Josie Van Der Velden: Those sound like really powerful programs. 

Marjorie Kalama: Mm hmm. 

Josie Van Der Velden: You mentioned that there, it allows people to sort of invest in themselves. Um, within the community, what other impacts have you seen from these programs?

Marjorie Kalama: The other impacts I’ve seen is like when we do, I don’t know all the funding sources, but I do know that when we were developing our culture, we’re developing our language. And those fundings are helping us develop our language and helped us introduce it to this, a school district and the school district bought into it.

And so our language is, is very strong. And that’s how you teach, you know, the languages is, uh, talking with each other. So the kids are talking with each other. I’m beyond that, you know, I’m like, have to sit on the side and just listen and, and be thankful that they did that. 

The other programs are like, when we’re doing cultural revival, all the kids and their parents are putting together their own outfits, their regalia. So they’re teaching themselves, and they’re reaching out to Elders to learn how to make the regalia, which is a revival of our, our styles, our different styles of dance, our different styles of singing. And, you know, all of that is, it is a blessing that I think our, our Elders who sacrificed what they had to sacrifice back in the day, that we are trying to, um, answer their prayers. So that’s what we’re doing.

Josie Van Der Velden: Do you feel that the effects of, some of these cultural, this cultural revival, this connection of the future generations back to the culture will help in the face of some of those challenges you described that are in the community, like drugs and things like that?

Marjorie Kalama: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Um, many times we have, uh, people who are using and they’ll come to, to these little events that we have.

And you can tell that they, they want to be clean. They say, okay, next time I’m coming, I’m going to be clean. And they are, and they can feel that, what it is, the cleanliness of the dance, the singing, and, and, you know, it’s not, it’s not crazy. They’re not crazy anymore. They’re, they’re sane, you know, so that’s how that’s helping the, um, some of the harder parts of our, uh, society. 

The other parts is our Elders when they’re nearing, um, the age of, it’s because they know, you know, it’s, it’s almost time for me to leave, you know, but these dances revive and, and it’s easier, then, for us to leave because we know what’s, what’s happening here. Okay, this is started, this is going, the kids are picking it up. The parents are loving their families, you know, and so those kinds of things will allow, um, us to move on, you know.

Josie Van Der Velden: Absolutely. Maybe more generally, Visit Bend as a destination marketing organization, there is this understanding and desire to make sure that their impact of the funds that they’re able to distribute goes beyond just the town, right? That goes to the larger, the broader area, including Warm Springs, where they, they are aware that, you know, 50% of their travellers come through the territory here. 

Why do you feel it’s important that the Visit Bend funding and programs and partnerships extend beyond just the town and extend into the Warm Springs community?

Marjorie Kalama: It’s important that the Visit Bend funding extends beyond the Bend boundaries. Bend boundaries are in a ceded area, a million acres of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Also, Bend has benefited from Highway 26, which was built across the reservation in the 50s. And I believe that’s the ski, the skiers, just, go come back and forth. And they have been ever since that the um highway’s been built. So the economics of Bend is directly from Highway 26, because it’s an easier route 

Other than that, I think um, we are the first community and the last community that people, uh, will see as they travel across the reservation, and, but as they travel across the reservation, they’re in natural territory. They’re in undeveloped areas. And I believe that it’s beautiful. So they get a taste of the forest, and high desert, and the clean rivers, and they get to see the wild horses, the cattle, and you know, and that’s just coming through the reservation. So they get to see Bend before it was Bend, because that’s how Bend was at one time.

Josie Van Der Velden: There’s been, like everywhere in the world, a huge increase in tourism, people coming and, um, how do you feel like the impact of that increase in the tourism and the population of Bend has been affecting your community?

Marjorie Kalama: Well, it hasn’t really affected us, because we have a limited, uh, venue of tourism here on the reservation.

But, what we found at Kah-Nee-Ta, when Kah-Nee-Ta was operating, was it was, it was growing, it was getting bigger and bigger. And I’ve been proposing and talking with people from Kah-Nee-Ta and saying it may have to be a limited, a limited source of tourism because those lands need to be taken care of.

And we, we did find that there was a, a stream goes right through by Kah-Nee-Ta. And we swam, we swim there all the time, right? But then tourists start swimming along the river too. Their tanning lotion would get into the river, and that, there was a difference when that happened, so we had to stop, uh, river swimming because of that.

So those kinds of small things happen when you have a clean river because otters live in those rivers too and hot springs. And one thing we did key in on was our hot springs. They’re natural hot springs. And I, I felt that we should key in on just the hot springs. Let’s not have a pool. Let’s just enjoy our hot springs. And, and so that’s what they’re going to do with Kah-Nee-Ta now. 

Josie Van Der Velden: So, do you feel like, you know, Kah-Nee-Ta is an example of an opportunity where the community of Warm Springs can decide where do we want to bring the tourists and then partner with the funding organizations like Visit Bend to create a really intentional experience? 

Marjorie Kalama: Oh yeah. Our Tribal Council, in the years back, identified certain areas for tourism already. So the High Lakes, um, Trout Lake is a tourism site. Indian Park is a tourism site. Dry Creek Park is a tourism site. Kah-Nee-Ta is a tourism site. And those four areas are designated for tourism. We haven’t developed those. 

Josie Van Der Velden: Do you or the kind of larger community have any fears or concerns that, like what happened with the river swimming, that it’s a way of life and a part of your life here, but because of the volume of tourists that are coming through, they just see it, and then they’re like, “Oh, we want to try that,” and then they kind of push it past the point of being a sustainable, and then it actually results in you having to change your way of life, “Oh no, now we can’t swim here anymore,” because it’s, it’s not safe for the environment. It’s not, it’s affecting the otters. It’s, and you have to change your way of life. Like is there larger fears or concerns in the community? Do you feel like that that will continue to happen on a grander scale?

Marjorie Kalama: If we allow it, but we won’t allow it. We know, we know, because with that example alone with this, um, sunscreen and the, uh, tanning oil, we realize that even the littlest things will disrupt nature. You know, if we see like too much boats on, on the, Deschutes River, you can’t run motor boats along, um, from the dam down to Maupin.

And that’s because, you know, uh, it’s pristine, and they can’t put that way. So those kinds of things we are aware of and, and we will stop it if we think it’s not going to help. We will.

Josie Van Der Velden: That’s great. Do you feel that the partnership with Visit Bend helps to amplify the voice of the community when you guys need to set those boundaries? Or do you feel like sometimes you’re butting heads with their priorities?

Marjorie Kalama: I think we have the same priorities. We have different outcomes, because they’re ready for their populations, they know what’s coming. They plan for that. We don’t plan for those kinds of things. We look out for our land base, because this is all we’ve got.

And because this is all we have, we need to take care of it. And so when we do, and if, and if I’m, on any board like that, I would let them know that. This is our land base. You cannot just come in here and think that you could, uh, overrun it, because you can’t, and we won’t let you. But we will let you do this, and we’ll let you do that, you know, and as long as they work with us, you know, everything is, is workable. 

Josie Van Der Velden: That’s a great spirit of collaboration. Um, How do you think other destinations, like around the U. S. or around the world, should better work with the tribal nations that their, um, that their, you know, that their town sites are on the ceded territory of or that they’re neighbors with?

Marjorie Kalama: I think the better relationship with other Nations and other communities is that they realize that we are still here. We still carry our ancient ways. We understand what everybody wanted. They wanted land. We understand that now. But what we have is we have our, our spirits, you know. And we want that respect of us being spiritual people with the land and with the environment. And, and we want them to know that, um, what had happened in the past, our Elders lived through, and they lived through it for us here today. So we are grateful for the Elders and the non-Indians who looked out for us too, because we know that that happened. We couldn’t do this alone. We wouldn’t be here if it, you know, if it wasn’t for people who helped us. And so we, we’re grateful for that. And we know that that’s why we’re even still alive today.

And not only are we preserving our, our heritage, but they’re also helping us preserve our heritage, and that’s respectable.

Josie Van Der Velden: There is this sort of understanding, like you just said, that it’s not just about land, it’s about connection to land.

Marjorie Kalama: Mm hmm. 

Josie Van Der Velden: And that can motivate how you develop or collaborate around the use of, of the area, which is so important. We’re, we’re based in Canada, um, and we’ve been exploring a lot, the kind of topics related to Indigenous tourism in Canada, your neighbor to the north. Um, how do you think that tourism in Oregon, for example, could kind of help benefit, you know, how the relationships are working, how they could help benefit some of the work that’s happening in, in Canada as well, with the Indigenous Nations.

Marjorie Kalama: You may not know this, but I lived in Canada for seven years. I lived in, um, Abbotsford up by, uh, Chilliwack. And I lived with the natives there. And the Elder people were the ones who took me in because they knew where I came from. They said, you’re from Mount Jefferson. Mount Jefferson chased the three sisters down from Canada, and so did Adams, and so did, um, Rainier. They were chasing the three sisters. That’s why they were all along here. And so, then there’s Mount Shiam that’s in, in Chilliwack there. Mount Shiam was a little sister to the, uh, three brothers that came this way. So you, the ancient has always been there. There’s trails back and forth, you know, between the Canadians and the natives.

And the Jade Treaty that allowed the Natives to go back and forth is very helpful for our Native people because we trade and we, we, uh, learn about each other because they have a smokehouse. We have a longhouse, you know, so we learn about each other. And we know the difference of our different people from, from our Elders. 

And so how we can help each other, we’ve always helped each other, you know, and it’s just that line, you know, they always say they just drew a line. But then, and then you have a Canada has a mother and America has a father. So that’s how we look at it too. We say, Oh, Canada has a mother. We have the father. The queen and the president, right? 

But what happened to Canada also happened to us. But it lasted longer in Canada, you know, with the boarding schools and all that. Those are sad parts, you know. Those are things we can never take back, and we will never forget, you know. Um, and, and the devastation of our timbers, you know. Those are things are, we, we, it’s hurtful, you know, and it does go from generation to generation. It’s called, you know, the generational trauma, you know, that is carried on. But, um, I think how, uh, how people recognize and address it and acknowledge it is helpful to both of our peoples.

Josie Van Der Velden: Yeah, absolutely.

What, if you could give some advice to, you know, kind of thinking of the, the things that have really worked in Warm Springs with tourism, with embracing tourism, with setting boundaries, with partnering with Bend and, and Oregon State on the state level, if you could give some advice to destinations who are looking to work more closely with their Indigenous Nations. And to support them through tourism, um, how, what advice would you give them to, to kind of set, help them set them on a, a good path?

Marjorie Kalama: The advice I would give a person who would want to deal with Natives is that, recognize that there are different generations and that we all live on the same land base. And the generations look at, um, tourism differently. Each generation does. And if they can acknowledge those generational differences. And then, then ask the questions. Because we are all here. And our generation, or the younger generation, speaks up more than when I was younger.

I never, we were taught not to speak up, but now the kids are learning to speak up. They have more communicational skills ever, than ever before. So that’s why I say if, if somebody’s going to work with, uh, uh, reservations, Native people, they need to work with all the generations, because we are all on the same land base.

Josie Van Der Velden: That’s so true. How do you feel that tourism can support a better understanding of Indigenous culture and history in a place?

Marjorie Kalama: Oh, I talk to my, my Elder friends about it all the time. And they really love telling stories. They really love sharing their culture. And if a person, a tourist comes and asks them a question, they’ll answer. So I believe that if you, if you want tourism, um, to thrive, you want to start with the Elders, the Elders who have known and seen and know the difference between a tourist and a nosy person. Well, maybe they’re the same, but, but they love it because then they can divulge information.

And not everybody talks, not everybody will relay, not everybody will divulge information. And so there will be certain people who will protect whatever they, you know, their, their, their knowledge. But there are other people who can tell the difference between what can be shared and what can’t be shared. So just be respectful to that, um, as a tourist. 

And one thing too is the authenticity. You know, we could sell 10 dollar beadwork, it, it cheapens us, you know, and we’re, we would do it, but it’s, it’s not fulfilling.

When we do do beadwork, like that, um, little piece right there I have, it was more of, uh, art. It was like, it was like that hummingbird was talking to me and it was, he was flying while I was beading it, you know, and so the colors were there to, and so, so when you see beadwork of a native. There’s always a story with it.

And if you want to ask what’s the story with it, they may just have the story, and they may just let you know what that story is. So sharing those kinds of things too. Um, there’s different ways of, of being a tourist and there’s different ways of talking to a tourist. 

Josie Van Der Velden: When you think about the culture of, of your community and of your, um, heritage and the culture that’s been passed down through your ancestors, um, do you think there’s kind of like values or lessons that you, your culture could teach the rest of the world or that they could really benefit from understanding?

Marjorie Kalama: Well, when I speak with, um, other people about my culture, I find they have it too. They have training from their Elders, and I kind of like to learn from their training too, that they have culture. And if they don’t have culture, then that’s when they do look to us for, um, knowledge or, or understanding or, or awareness or, you know, some, some little bits of what we, we have left, you know. 

And we’ll share it with them, but I would, I always like to say, wait, now, I know you have some, I know you’re carrying something. What are you carrying? You know, because that way, when, when, um, one understands you, you understand them, and then you have something in common. And that’s why we always say we’re all related, you know, because it, it, it is like, feels like we’re all related. Cause there’s something in somebody’s life that touches your life too.

Josie Van Der Velden: I love it. last question. What brings you hope for the future of your community and the culture here?

Marjorie Kalama: Mmm, the hope is that, the parents, the parents are stronger. And being a parent is more important now. Our parents are starting to understand that they are developing the future. And we need support for the parents, you know, we need to, we need to help them, because I was a single parent – I felt like a single parent, right? And I had, I was making too much money and then making too little money, you know, too much money to be helped and too little money to help. So, you know, I was right there in between. And, but the people that helped me were the Head Start teachers. The Head Start teachers taught me how, what I was doing with my kids, and how I could do better with my kids, you know. And that’s the future, is being a good parent to your children. And then you’ll be a great grandparent to your grandchildren, you know, those kinds of teachings in the family.

Josie Van Der Velden: That’s a, yeah, really beautiful hope. Well that’s it for our questions. Is there anything, Marge, that we didn’t talk about that you want to share? Or, or, you know, message that you want to kind of put out about the work you’re doing and the work that’s happening around here and.

Marjorie Kalama: Okay. I lived through the timber, timber days when there was timber everywhere and we had money and everybody was rich. It felt like we were all rich, and Kah-Nee-Ta was going, and seemed like we were squandering money at that time. And at that time I, I would speak up and say, and talk to the council and everybody say, you guys, something’s wrong here. And nobody would listen. Well then now, all the money’s gone.

And, um, I’m trying not to point fingers. Okay. And I’m trying to say, okay, it’s better to remember what happened so that when we do it again, when we do have money again, we know where, where that money should be be going. 

And our Elders did that, our, our Elders before, who didn’t have money when they first came to the reservation, they didn’t have money. And then when they did have money, they, they invested in education, they invested it in, in, um, infrastructure. You know, that’s what the Elders did at that time. So now here we’re, we’re repeating and that’s what we need to invest in. Infrastructure and education. And those are the two main ones. Um, so that’s my, my futuristic hope for the reservation, is that we reinvest our money into, um, those two things. And then to, um, collaborate and understand that we can’t do this alone. This is not, we, we, we need to, to, um, negotiate with other people, you know? So our negotiation skills, our collaboration and our awareness of a need to maintain our resources for the children beyond us, because our time, well, my time is almost, you know, I, I’ll put anything down, because I’m ready. You know, I’m just saving stuff now, so, so that the kids will have something. That’s what I’m doing.

Josie Van Der Velden: That’s really beautiful. 

Sara Raymond de Booy: This has been Travel Beyond presented by Destination Think, and you just heard Josie Van der Velden speaking with Marjorie Kalama from Warm Springs, Oregon. For more resources and show notes, visit the blog at Destination Think dot com. I’m Sara Raymond de Booy. My co-host and co-producer is David Archer, who also composed our show’s theme music. Lindsay Payne provided production support. 

If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give us a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. It helps more people find our show. 

We would like to thank Visit Bend for sponsoring this season of Travel Beyond. 

Next time, we’ll hear from a Bend bike shop owner who has devoted his business to bottom up solutions that improve both travel experience and local community life. See you then.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You’ve found your partner for destination marketing

We work with the most innovative tourism boards in the world to create a vision for each of their destinations, solve business challenges and execute brilliant, integrated campaigns. The expertise we apply to that work is shared in the articles published here and in our DMO Matters newsletter.

Get must-read updates delivered weekly!

Sign up to have our must-read weekly digest of leading destination marketing trends and innovation delivered directly to your inbox.

Fields marked with an * are required.


Thank you! You will receive an email to confirm your subscription.

Share This