Spirit Mountain Casino may be the unincorporated community of Grand Ronde’s — and the state’s — most popular tourist destination, but there’s plenty more to Grand Ronde than meets the eye.
Population: 2,000 (estimated).
Elevation: 344 feet above sea level.
City Hall: None (unincorporated community).
Visitor Services: Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, 9615 Grand Ronde Road, Grand Ronde, 1-800-422-0232. Hiking trail maps are available at the Tribe’s Natural Resources Office, 47010 SW Hebo Road. Camping is allowed, but permits are required. Call 503-879-2424 for more information.
Grand Ronde has a long and storied history. Tribal ancestors lived throughout the Willamette Valley, southern Oregon and the Oregon Coast since time immemorial.
They were moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation beginning in 1856, after ceding most of what is now western Oregon to the federal government in five ratified treaties.
Federal recognition was taken away from the tribe, and it was terminated in 1954, but the Grand Ronde Tribe, through the work by tribal members, friends and community allies, saw the tribe restored on Nov. 22, 1983.
Today, the tribe’s reservation and land holdings total more than 12,000 acres.
The tribe’s story is on display in the Chachalu Tribal Museum & Cultural Center, 8720 Grand Ronde Road, which opened in 2014.
The center features an exhibit detailing the tribe’s history and created an archive for cultural artifacts.
A second phase is currently under construction and, when finished, will have a large, permanent exhibition display space, work rooms for curating public exhibits, artifact processing, special processing and freezer, long-term storage for cultural archives and work rooms for Tribal research.
The museum is closed to the public until early 2018 for construction.
When fully completed, the museum will be approximately 17,000-square feet. The name Chachalu means “the place of burnt timber” in honor of what members of the Tualatin-Kalapuya Tribe named part of the Grand Ronde area that had been destroyed by a wildfire.
The museum’s logo features a camas lily, a plant known for restoring itself after forest fires — a symbol for the tribe’s restoration after being “burnt” through placement on the reservation and termination.
The tribe also hosts a number of unforgettable cultural events that are open to the public. Those include powwows in July and August, arts and crafts fairs at the casino, and more.
In addition, 14 miles of public hiking trails on the Grand Ronde Reservation and the popular Big Buck campground are maintained by the tribe, and makes the area perfect for those looking for an outdoor adventure. To use the campground, members of the public must obtain a pass at 503-879-2424.
Grand Ronde is also where you can find the 108-acre Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area, operated by Oregon State Parks. Fort Yamhill was a military outpost that was in operation from 1856-66, and established to protect and control Native Americans on the Grand Ronde reservation.
Also, located in Grand Ronde is the world-class West Valley Veterans’ Memorial dedicated to those from the West Valley area who have served their country. The four black granite pillars represent the major branches of the U.S. armed forces and have more than 2,300 names etched into them. The tribe holds an annual ceremony to honor West Valley veterans every Memorial Day.
Whether you’re looking for a Vegas-style gaming experience, a trip to learn more about the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and Native American history in Oregon, or to check out one of the many colorful cultural events, Grand Ronde offers a compelling mix of history and fun.
For more information about the Tribe and the area, visit www.grandronde.org.