The Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, situated on the Umatilla Reservation outside Pendleton, Oregon, is the only tribal-run Native American museum along the Oregon Trail, and it’s a wonderful cultural gem.
Developed and operated by members of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes that have lived on the land for 10,000 years, the museum is a rare chance to get the Native American perspective on the history of the region and on the clash of cultures and wars caused by the white settlers in the Pacific Northwest.
A feeling of immense pride runs through the entire museum: pride in the tribes’ unique customs and traditions and in the strength that has helped them stand until today and share their cultures and traditions with the world. The name, Tamástslikt, neatly encapsulates the institute’s vision: It means “interpreting our own story.”
The three permanent exhibits—broken up into “We Were,” “We Are,” and “We Will Be”—include interviews with tribal warriors, ancient tools, traditional artwork, and tribal music sung across generations. Visitors learn about the different aspects of everyday life on the vast stretch of land: the kind of food people ate, the tools used in hunting, and the devices created for various daily tasks.