Delson Suppah, Sr. leads three young tribal members in a march at Kah-Nee-Ta. 

Delson Suppah, Sr. leads three young tribal members in a march at Kah-Nee-Ta. 

Emily Cureton/OPB

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. 

Sam Starr and Jo Ann Smith march in front of the Kah-Nee-Ta lodge to the hot springs down the hill as part of a protest over the possible closure of the resort.

Sam Starr and Jo Ann Smith march in front of the Kah-Nee-Ta lodge to the hot springs down the hill as part of a protest over the possible closure of the resort.

Emily Cureton/OPB

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.