ABOUT THE BOOK AND AUTHOR: As a non-Indian from the east coast, I felt privileged to live and work on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation during the 1970s and ’80s. It was in my capacity as a writer and photographer for the tribal newspaper Spilyay Tymoo that I first got to know the reservation community. My book Faces of a Reservation was a way of shining a light on the people and culture I’d come to love and admire. The heart of Faces is a collection of 52 photographic portraits of tribal members, accompanied by written portraits; the second half of the book is a comprehensive history and description of the reservation that gives context to the portraits. I created Faces independently of the Tribes, but with the collaboration and permission of the profiled individuals as well as helpful manuscript reviews by the tribal attorney and other experts. The Oregon Historical Society Press published the book as a hardcover in 1987 and reissued it in softcover in 1989. While Faces of a Reservation is now out of print, some of the 4,000 copies produced and sold can be found in libraries and at used bookstores and online booksellers. The photographs on this website are displayed in a different order than they appeared in the book and are arranged in categories or “galleries” for ease of viewing. The captions are brief distillations of my original profiles, often focusing on interviewees’ own words.
ABOUT THE RESERVATION: The Warm Springs Indian Reservation was established by the 1855 Treaty with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Middle Oregon. Held in trust by the federal government for the exclusive use of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes, the 640,000-acre reservation represents only a tiny fraction of the tribes’ aboriginal territory, which extended from the Columbia River into the Great Basin. Though the tribes retained their right to fish, hunt, and gather on their ceded lands, they were expected to live year-round on the new reservation and take up a farming lifestyle. This uprooting from their traditional homes and economies, along with unkept treaty promises of food and supplies, made the early years at Warm Springs difficult. From the thousand or so first arrivals, the population dipped during the 19th century, but rebounded in the 20th, with tribal membership growing to about 2,800 by the time Faces was published, and almost doubling in the last thirty years to 5,200. Intermarriage has blurred tribal lines, but the three communities on the reservation—Agency, Simnasho, and Seekseequa—still roughly correspond to the three tribes. Elected representatives of these districts along with the three tribal chiefs make up the eleven-member Tribal Council, formalized by the 1938 Tribal Constitution and assisted by a vast administrative organization.
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are proud of their status as a sovereign nation that has government-to-government relationships with the United States and the State of Oregon. But they are also a strong corporation that operates a number of tribal enterprises for the benefit of their membership. When the tribes’ traditional fishing grounds at Celilio Falls were flooded by The Dalles Dam in 1957, Tribal Council used the monetary compensation from the U.S. government to start building a robust economy based on the reservation’s natural resources, including timber and hydroelectric power. With declining profits in recent years, the Tribes have had to use their ingenuity to diversify and create other sources of income, such as casinos, drone testing, cannabis cultivation, and carbon sequestration. For more than 160 years, the three different tribes at Warm Springs have successfully come together to protect their resources, provide an economic livelihood for tribal members, and preserve their languages and cultures for future generations.
ABOUT THE PROCESS: Some of the photographs in Faces of a Reservation were taken while covering community events or doing feature stories for Spilyay Tymoo, but many were made especially for the book. I used either my Nikon F2 or Nikkormat FTn with a range of fixed-length lenses, from 35mm to 135mm. My film was generally either Kodak Tri-X or Ilford FP4 and I processed it myself in the darkroom I’d set up for the newspaper. To give the photographs a new life online, I’ve scanned the final, archival prints I’d made for the book production, and uploaded them to the WordPress platform. These images are not for sale, and may only be used with attribution and without alteration for personal, educational, and other non-commercial purposes.
All photographs © 1986 Cynthia D. Stowell