History & Culture

The Grand Ronde Community Today

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon is a federally recognized Tribe that includes over 30 Tribes and bands from western Oregon, northern California, and southwest Washington. These include tribal bands from the Kalapuya, Molalla, Chasta, Umpqua, Rogue River, Chinook, and Tillamook. The Tribe is active throughout its ancestral homelands but located in western Oregon where it has a 11,500-acre reservation in Yamhill County. With approximately 5,400 enrolled tribal members, the Tribe is governed by a nine-member Tribal Council that is elected by the Tribe’s voting membership.

The Tribe’s vision is to be a Tribal community known as a caring people, dedicated to the principles of honesty and integrity. The Tribe is committed to the responsible stewardship of human and natural resources while striving to be a community willing to act with courage in preserving tribal cultures and traditions for future generations.

In 1995 the Tribe opened Spirit Mountain Casino. The Casino and its hotel, Spirit Mountain Lodge, employ 1,100 people and is the largest employer in Polk County. Its success allows the Tribe to give back through the Spirit Mountain Community Fund and helps the Tribe support a number of programs. Those programs include education, housing, economic development, natural resources, cultural resources, as well as health and wellness services

Two years later the Tribe opened the Grand Ronde Health & Wellness Center. This clinic provides medical and dental services to tribal members, other Native Americans and Grand Ronde community members. These services include programs in addiction treatment and counseling services.

“The story of the Grand Ronde Tribe is a story of a people’s resilience, a people’s relationship to place, and a people’s perseverance through their culture. As a tribe, the responsibility to tell our history and our own story lies with ourselves and no one else.” 

Cheryle A. Kennedy, Chairwoman
Grand Ronde Tribal Council
June 5, 2018 in Grand Ronde, OR.

Our Story
Cheryle At Will Falls

Our Land

Ambrose Journal 1856

February 23, 1856, Indian Agent George Ambrose began moving 325 "Indian Refugees" from the Table Rock Reservation in Southern Oregon to the Grand Ronde Reservation in the Willamette Valley. Known as the Rogue River Trail of Tears, this journey required the Natives to leave their homelands and travel, on foot, north. The Rogue River Trail of Tears would take 33 days and cover 263 miles. Agent Ambrose kept a journal during the removal. We will share with you some of his entries as a glimpse into that history.

February 23rd

"February 23rd Saturday, The weather still continues to be pleasant. It was found necessary to have more teams than at first contemplated. I accordingly proceeded to Jacksonville for that purpose, and also to provide some articles, such as clothing and blankets to add to the comfort of the Indians, although the weather is sett [sic] down as pleasant. It certainly would be regarded as such, especially at this season of the year, however the nights are quite frosty and the morning’s cool, sufficiently so, to render it necessary that they should be provided with Tents, Blankets, shoes & such necessaries as would tend to promote their comfort while on the journey which being procured the day was spent in distributing the articles among them. Also two additional teams were secured to convey the sick, aged, and infirm. Our teams now number eight with I fear will not be sufficient. Thirty four Indians are disabled from traveling by reason of Sickness aside from the aged and infirm, who will as a matter of course, have to be hauled."

February 28th

"February 28th Thursday Frosty & cool again this morning. While about preparing to leave camp some person killed an Indian who had wandered off some distance from camp in search of his horse which had strayed off during the night, which caused some considerable excitement among the Indians as it went to prove the statement previously made by some evil disposed persons, to wit: that they will be killed by the way. We learned this morning that a party of evil disposed persons have gone in advance of us, as is suppose to annoy us, or kill some friendly Indians. A messenger was immediately dispatched to Capt [Andrew J.] Smith at Fort Lane for an additional force to escort us to or thro[ugh] the Canyon is it should be necessary….”

March 1st

"March 1st Saturday Quite a pleasant spring like morning. Everything being in readiness by times we took up our line of march over a rough hilly mountainous country, and the roads were truly in a horrible condition. I omitted to mention that on Thursday last we took a Northwood direction and left the Rogue River to the South of us which brought us among some rough hills, between the Umpqua and Rogue River. After passing the Grave [C]reek Hills we learned that Mr. Love and some others were awaiting us at the house, intending to kill an Indian. Upon going to the house I found it to be a fact, talked with the gentlemen, told them the consequences, went back & requested Capt. Smith to arrest Mr. Love and turn him over to the civil authorities. We passed the house however without any difficulty and encamped on a small stream two miles North of Grave Creek. We drove today a distance of eight miles. We are now in the midst of hostile Indian Country and not entirely free from danger.”

March 7th

"March 7th Friday The weather still continued cool & frosty of nights and pleasant thru the day. Our road today hilly & in places quite rocky. An Indian woman died this morning & the number of sick increasing. It was found necessary to hire or buy another team. I soon procured one & continued our march. We drove today a distance of ten miles & encamped in Round Prairie on the South Umpqua yet.”

March 12th

"March 12th Wednesday Clouds & threatening rain, we had some trouble in finding our cattle. We however succeeded in getting them together about ten o’clock. After traveling through a canyon about one and a half miles we arrived at Calapooia Creek. Our rout[e] lay directly up the creek for two & a half miles over hilly but prairie Country when we crossed the stream on a bridge at [Dorsey] Bakers. For the remainder of the day our rout[e] lay northword & over some steep hills. About four miles from the mills we struck camp at what is called [O]akland. Two deaths occurred today since we camped-one man & one woman.”

March 25th

"March 25 Tuesday Clear & pleasant. We got an early start this morning and after driving hard all day reached the [Grand Ronde] Reservation about four oclock in the evening after driving a distance of sixteen miles. So ends my journey & journal. After a period of thirty three days in which we traveled a distance of two hundred & sixty three miles. Started with three hundred and twenty-five Indians. Eight deaths and eight births leaving the number the same as when started.” Final journal entry of Agent Ambrose, Rogue River Trail of Tears It was at this spot, near our Plankhouse, that the Rogue River Trail of Tears came to an end. And while Agent Ambrose states, “So ends my journey & journal”, the story and the journey of the Grand Ronde people would persist. We are in awe over the response to these posts. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit more about the history of the Grand Ronde people. Unfortunately, the story of the Rogue River Trail of Tears is not unique because these removals occurred throughout Indian Country. However, this history is a part of where we come from and is often ignored. Therefore, it is our responsibility to tell our own history because we must understand where we have been to understand where we are going.

Ambrose Journal 1856
February 23rd
February 28th
March 1st
March 7th
March 12th
March 25th

Learn more about The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Get in Touch

Location & Contact

Tribal Headquarter Address
9615 Grand Ronde Road
Grand Ronde, OR 97347

General Phone Inquiries
800-422-0232 or 503-879-5211

Contact us

Fax *: 503-879-2025
*Please do not fax medical information to this number, use the Health and Wellness fax 503-879-2071

Schedule a Meeting with Tribal Council

Schedule Link