Harney County, Oregon

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Harney County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is included in the 8 county definition of Eastern Oregon. Established in 1889, the county is named in honor of William S. Harney, a military officer of the period, who was involved in the Pig War and popular in the Pacific Northwest. The county seat is Burns. In 2000, the county's population was 7,609. Harney County is Oregon's largest county in area.



The Native Americans living in this region at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were the Northern Paiute, who fought with the Tenino and Wasco peoples. Peter Skene Ogden was the first European to explore this area when he led a fur brigade for the Hudson's Bay Company in 1826.

Harney County was carved out of the southern two-thirds of Grant County on February 25, 1889. A fierce political battle, with armed night riders who spirited county records from Harney to Burns, ended with Burns as the county seat in 1890.

The Malheur River Indian Reservation was created by executive order on March 14, 1871 and the Northern Paiutes within the Oregon state boundaries were settled there. Descendants of these people form a federally recognized tribal entity, the Burns Paiute Tribe, which has about 341 members.[1] Fewer than 35.5% of the tribal members live on the Burns Paiute Indian Colony near Burns.[1] A small casino, the Old Camp Casino, and renting out tribal lands to local ranchers contribute to the tribal economy.

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