Warm Springs readies for eclipse activities
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will roll out the red carpet this week and next for visitors coming for the total solar eclipse, with events scattered around the Warm Springs Reservation, from the museum and casino all the way out to Kah-Nee-Ta Resort.
At Kah-Nee-Ta, about 20 minutes from Warm Springs on Agency Hot Springs Road, the 139-room lodge has been booked out since 2014, when a Japanese group paid to rent the entire lodge, in addition to 10 rooms at Kah-Nee-Ta Village. The group will fly into the Portland International Airport and travel to the resort in eight buses to stay the nights of Aug. 19 and 20, which will allow them to view the eclipse at 10:19 a.m. on Aug. 21, before leaving the resort.
"Our two lodge parking lots are going to be reserved for the Japanese group," said Cruz Bocanegra, group sales manager for Kah-Nee-Ta, noting that the visitors will be able to watch the eclipse there, from the balconies of their rooms, or in the village, "wherever they find themselves."
The lodge will prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the Japanese group, which includes 15 families, seniors and singles, but allow them to select their own activities.
"We'll have regular operations — kayaking, the pool, horseback riding and golf — available to them and the public," said Bocanegra, adding that there will also be live music at the lodge.
Early on the morning of the eclipse, there will be a 22-person kayak trip starting from the Kah-Nee-Ta Village area, on the Warm Springs River. The trip will take about two hours, including stops to get out and swim, and will end "on the other side of the golf course," where the kayakers will watch the eclipse and have lunch.
The other 20 rooms at the village have also been rented out for a week-long family reunion. "The family reunion group is staying Friday through Friday," said Bocanegra, who is eagerly anticipating the event. "We're really excited to have a bunch of people out here and entertain some new guests."
"We're pretty lucky that we have these two groups coming in, because we've been able to plan ahead," he said.
Even before the tribes agreed to rent out the entire lodge three years ago, the resort was already on the radar for others interested in staying there during the total solar eclipse.
"The first call I personally got was in 2011," said Bocanegra, recalling a call from a woman who traveled around to eclipse locations with her husand. "She asked, 'Can you give me a rate?'"
On Monday, Aug. 21, the tribes will offer day-use parking for $20 for the day, at Kah-Nee-Ta, which has more than 300 parking spaces. "We're removing any nonovernight guests at midnight (early Monday) and then we'll start taking day-use parking at 4 a.m.," he said. "The moment they're full, we'll be turning people away."
Museum and casino activities
Between Indian Head and the Museum at Warm Springs, which are on opposite sides of U.S. Highway 26 in Warm Springs, as many as 2,500 people can be accommodated, according to Belinda Chavez, marketing director for Indian Head Casino, which is partnering with the Madras-based Jefferson County Tourism Group to promote the Warm Springs events.
"Indian Head Casino is now the official cultural sponsor of the (tourism group's) SolarFest and SolarTown," said Chavez, who anticipates a teepee village at each of the Madras locations. "We've been meeting well over a year with the Jefferson County Tourism Group." (See SolarFest and SolarTown in this publication.)
The Warm Springs Solar Eclipse events, "An ilawaashk ishita" (The sun will be shadowed), will be held in the Artists Village at the Museum at Warm Springs Aug. 19 and 20, and at the casino Aug. 19-21.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Artists Village will feature the wares of local artists in a family-friendly event, with educational demonstrations and local performers.
"There should be transportation to and from Kah-Nee-Ta and from Madras — SolarTown, the event across from the airport," said Chavez. "They'll be able to come down and enjoy events down here. We'll also have bus passes available for employees. Our goal is to keep as many people off the roads as possible to minimize the impact on traffic."
"The casino will be having our outdoor summer concert venue, as we do every year," she said. "We'll be having concerts Saturday, Sunday and Monday — all Native American artists."
The Native American Concert Series will feature Kelly Jackson, a contemporary songwriter and performer from the Lac du Flambeau Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin, on Saturday, and Arlie Neskihi, a Navajo musician, currently from Seattle, with the band Eagles Jump. Saturday and Sunday, the doors open at 7 p.m. for the concerts.
On Monday, there will be a New Moon After-Party at 1 p.m., which will feature Warm Springs flautist and flutemaker Charles Littleleaf, at 3 p.m. Littleleaf's flutes will be on display.
For transportation to the concerts and activities, Chavez said, "The best bet is to make time to get here on the bus," which will be running from SolarFest, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, and SolarTown, north of Madras, to events and activities in Madras and Warm Springs. Cost for the bus will be $7 per person per day or $18 per person for a four-day pass.
"We are making sure that our visitors to Central Oregon know that there's a cultural experience to be had," she said. "From a marketing perspective, we want to put this corner of Central Oregon on the map for tour and travel destinations."
Check out the Indian Head Casino website at www.indianheadcasino.com for more information.
NASA balloon launch
At Warm Springs K-8 Academy, the University of Washington will be hosting a high-altitude balloon launch on the Warm Springs Reservation during the eclipse. "The launch is going to be done by Native American high school teams from the Northwest," said Chavez. "They'll fly (the balloons) to the edge of space during the eclipse."
About 70 high school and middle school students will be staying at the Warm Springs K-8 Academy for the event.
On Aug. 18, NASA will also be handing out 5,000 free solar eclipse glasses to Warm Springs residents.
"People within the community are excited," said Chavez, who has also heard that there is some anxiety. "There's been heightened awareness about keeping our community and visitors safe. Our local agencies have been meeting and are developing a plan so we can do just that."