The purchase of Hamley Steakhouse and Saloon and Hamley Western Store by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation was a fitting, and satisfactory, conclusion reached last week in Portland.
The tribes decided to invest $3.55 million to buy the facility, which is more than just an ordinary local historical landmark. The history of Hamley’s runs deep in our community and even deeper into our Old West heritage.
Hamley’s, which includes a western store, a coffee shop and a steakhouse, has been a part of the fabric of Pendleton — and Umatilla County — for more than 100 years.
That’s why its purchase by the tribes is so significant and poignant. The tribes are our direct link with the Old West, and they drifted across the vast county rangeland for a thousand years before Pendleton existed.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation also have proven to be able to create, manage and navigate a successful business — Wildhorse Resort & Casino.
Tribe members have shopped at Hamley’s since the store opened and it is comforting to know that a longtime local business is now going to remain owned by locals.
The only disappointing element to this latest local saga was the evidence of a lingering prejudice that still manifests itself from time to time. In this case there was an undercurrent — narrow, ill-defined and, fortunately, modest — that the Confederated Tribxes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation should not really be in the running to purchase the Old West-themed store. While incredibly disappointing, those sentiments also were somewhat surprising as we are two decades into the 21st century. Prejudice, however subtly it presents itself, needs to go away.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation did not have to buy Hamley’s. The tribes did not get a “steal” of a bargain either. That is unless you consider $3.55 million to be pocket change.
No, the tribes made a business decision, but one that exuded overtones of community service. No one wanted to see Hamley’s fade away. Too much history is tied up in the store, too many memories from a large group of people linger from the iconic place.
The cold hard truth is the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are a tremendous asset to this community. They are a tremendous asset to our state. They’ve done a very noble thing by stepping into purchase Hamley’s. Now Hamley’s stays locally owned and its future is bright. We salute the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and thank them.