The Treaty of 1855 between the Tribes of Middle Oregon and the U.S. Government identified the boundaries of the Warm Springs Reservation and its ceded lands. The ceded lands include the territory once occupied by the tribes (+ 10 million acres) who relinquished the land, but not their rights to the land, to the United States under treaty negotiations. In exchange for the ceded lands, the U.S. Government is obligated to provide certain compensation and services. They include the area south from the Columbia River, with Cascade Locks and the crest of the Cascade Mountains marking the western boundary, the 44th parallel marking the southern boundary, and the crest of the Blue Mountains and Willow Creek marking the eastern boundary.
The ceded lands encompass all of the John Day River drainage and most of the Deschutes River drainage. During treaty negotiations, the tribes reserved the right to continue to hunt, fish, gather traditional foods and pasture livestock on ceded, unclaimed lands. In addition, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, through its Branch of Natural Resources, maintains fishery offices and facilities on the John Day and Hood Rivers, including a fish hatchery on the Hood River near Parkdale, Oregon. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has the ability to expand its land base through purchase and acquisitions. When lands are acquired through their sale or other arrangement, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has the right to request that those lands be put into trust by the U.S. Government’s Department of Interior and become part of the current reservation land base.
During treaty negotiations, the tribes also reserved the right to continue to access and use usual and accustomed sites for traditional purposes. Usual and accustomed sites are areas located within and outside of the ceded lands where the tribes have traditional fisheries or use for other activities. A few of these sites include, but are not limited to, Willamette Falls, the north shore of the Columbia River (Bonneville and The Dalles reservoirs) and Sherars Falls. At all of these places, tribal members have the right to fish and practice their traditional activities.