Eastern Oregon

OCF Grant Supports Tribal Center

September 22, 2019, OCF staff attended a special event sponsored by the Burns Paiute Tribe to award a $50,000 grant to support the new Tukwahone’ Culture and Heritage Center in downtown Burns. Tribal members performed a ceremony, provided refreshments and shared the significance of their culture and history in Harney county. The space will allow the tribe a more visible place to show their culture and for tribal members to sell their wares. 

Left to right: Eric Hawley, Tribal Council Chairman; Rhonda Holtby, Burns Paiute Foundation President; Max Williams, OCF President and CEO; Fred Flippance, OCF Eastern Oregon Leadership Council member.


The Burns Paiute Tribe has owned the 7,500-square-foot downtown commercial building for years with starts and stops towards renovation and utilization.  In 2018 the tribe hired their first economic development staff member and identified the revitalization of this building as a high priority in their economic strategic plan. The plan prioritizes three strategies to overcome missed economic opportunities: entrepreneurship training, cultural development and an improved business location. Immediate needs for the center include weather-related upgrades, ADA-compliant access and public signage. These initial renovations will increase visibility of the project and generate excitement for a community-wide fundraising campaign.  

The tribe will occupy the building for special events even as renovations are in progress. Additional grant requests to state and national foundations are underway. A national Indianpreneurship curriculum was chosen to provide culturally relevant classes for tribal members.

Funding for the center is an example of OCF’s support of local efforts to build strong and vibrant local economies and engaged communities. 

Photographs by Jeremy Hill.