An international group of tourism media members and tradesmen traversed hundreds of miles through the state to see a construction project on Thursday afternoon.
As a part of Travel Oregon’s annual Road Rally tour, the group visited the Tamastslikt Institute on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, where they saw the erection of a teepee.
As three volunteers, including former Happy Canyon Princess Mary Harris, started assembling the teepee in front of the crowd, tour guide Marjorie Waheneka gave the assembly a brief history of the structure.
Waheneka said the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation originally built teepees with tule reeds and bulrush. The introduction of horses expanded trade opportunities with other tribes and settlers brought new materials, leading to teepees made of canvas and buffalo skin.
She said her own grandmother built her first teepee out of flour bags.
“They didn’t really know what they were getting into,” she said.
The 27 bloggers, journalists, and travel agents snapped photos and asked questions before being ushered inside the CTUIR’s museum for history and culture.
The Road Rally is Travel Oregon’s annual statewide tour for international tourism industry. By sponsoring a trip through the state, Travel Oregon hopes that attendees will be impressed enough by their trip to spread the word about the Beaver State once they return to their home countries.
Gabi Duarte, the Travel Oregon project manager for global sales, said people from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the Netherlands, China, and South Korea were all a part of this year’s Road Rally.
By the time the group arrived in Pendleton Thursday, they had already traveled to Oregon City, Bend and Baker City. After an evening in Pendleton, the contingent would go to Mount Hood before departing to their respective countries.
With the group’s time in town limited, Travel Pendleton had helped plan an ambitious itinerary.
After leaving Tamastslikt, the tour was going to be split up in downtown Pendleton, with part of the group visiting Pendleton Underground Tours and the other part doing a “maker’s tour” of local artisans.
After some down time at a hotel, the whole group would be picked up by horse-drawn carriages and taken to the Round-Up Grounds, where participants would be taught roping and take part in a miniature teepee competition.
Kristen Dollarhide, the tourism, hospitality and event coordinator for Travel Pendleton, said organizers originally intended to hold a teepee building competition at Tamastslikt, but they decided to scale it down and move it back due to time constraints and safety concerns.
Regardless of the behind-the-scenes alterations, the Road Rally members seemed satisfied with their experiences.
Reina Baek, a Korean who talks about tourism on her blog, Instagram, and YouTube channel, said she liked Oregon’s wide-open spaces.
She added that a trip to Oregon would be a vacation her parents would enjoy with all of the outdoor options.
Jo Mayston, a New Zealand travel agent, said Oregon reminded her of her home country with its diverse mixture of climates and blend of indigenous cultures.
After each woman said their goodbyes, they quickened their pace through the museum; they were falling behind the tour.