A council of elders from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs protested over the weekend plans to close the Kah-Nee-Ta resort and pool. Kah-Nee-Ta’s management announced in early July that it could shut down after Labor Day, laying off all 146 employees.
Ringing bells opened a prayer service Saturday in front of the hotel lodge. After prayers, about a dozen elders in traditional regalia held up signs, while hotel guests and employees joined them on a protest march to the hot springs pool on the Warm Springs River.
Organizer Mike Clements said the resources at Kah-Nee-Ta have long provided opportunities for native people.
“We want to see it continue as a tribal operation — managed by the tribe: for the people, by the people. That’s our hope with our prayer,” Clements said.
But Kah-Nee-Ta’s most obvious lifeline is an outsider. A Florida-based investor told KOIN he’s working toward signing a long-term lease with the tribe to take over operations. That deal still faces a financing shortfall.
Kah-Nee-Ta’s general manager did not immediately return requests for comment.
Clements took issue with how he said most tribal members found out the resort could close: through a flurry of media reports after a written notice was published to satisfy federal employment laws. At the protest, he called for more transparency and communication from Kah-Nee-Ta’s board of directors and the Warm Springs Tribal Council, which oversees the board.
In addition to amenities and rooms for guests and campers, Kah-Nee-Ta has about 50 on-site apartments for employees. For now, the fate of their jobs and their housing is uncertain.