One of my family’s favorite places to go in and around Pendleton is the incredible Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, just an exit off I-84, East of Pendleton, on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The word “Tamastslikt”, means “interpreter”. This “interpreter” has taught us so much about the native people of this region and their rich history.

The museum is arranged in a circular path inside a large round part of the building, that tells the tale of the native people from 10,000 years ago, up until the present and future. It is beautifully done, and is a sensual treat to hear and see. There are no photos allowed to be taken, so you’ll just have to come see it for yourself. It’s an attraction here that should not be missed! My kids love the speakers hidden throughout the museum that have recorded oral history stories from native people. There are also a lot of beautiful sounds of nature throughout the exhibits.

Being the seamstress that I am, I love the amazing robes, intricate beaded clothing and attire, and basketry that are displayed throughout the museum. Seeing the exhibits and hearing the stories gives us valuable lessons of respect and concern for not only the history of the native people of this area and other areas, but also renewed respect for how to treat and protect the land so that it protects us.

Despite our collective histories, the story that continues is one of hope and co-operation. The museum has an additional space for temporary exhibits as well as events and meeting held throughout the year. During the summer, the Living Cultural Museum is also staffed. The Tamastslikt Museum also participates in the “Blue Star Museum” program, offering free admission to all active military personnel and their families, through Labor Day 2010. It also offers free family passes through many public libraries in Eastern Oregon, free first Friday programs, where the first Friday of every month is free admission, as well as many other discounts. These generous programs allow so many of us to experience this wonderful place.

Admission prices are a bargain though, and the museum is just a short distance from the Wildhorse Resort and Casino, another must-see.

Becky is a mom living in Pendleton, Oregon who likes to explore the outdoors and find free or low-cost activities to share with her family.

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