A weathered marquee near the center of this small Native American reservation perched on the high desert plateaus of central Oregon reads “Every Day Is Another Chance,” offering a sense of optimism that can be hard to find among anybody who lives here.
The once-bustling lumber mill that sliced and shipped Douglas fir throughout the Pacific Northwest closed two years ago when the machines got too old and expensive to replace. The tribe tried a casino, but it was located half an hour from the highway, and nobody came.
Now they’ve opened another one, but meanwhile, nearly a quarter of those living on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs reservation are unemployed. To Carina Miller, a member of the tribal council, it’s time for the tribe to wade outside its comfort zone, to go beyond the traditional native economies of bingo, gambling and hydropower.