High Desert History: Southeastern Oregon

Compared to the rest of the state, southeastern Oregon's high desert country is a harsh but compelling landscape. Historically, the region has remained a comparatively isolated and challenging place, where the main currents of Oregon's development flowed more slowly than elsewhere. For thousands of years a home to Native peoples, Euro-Americans arrived in the early nineteenth century to trap beaver, graze livestock, and homestead the sagebrush plains. By the late twentieth century, southeastern Oregon had become a place of cultural dissonance, a region where a belief in American "rugged individualism" exists side-by-side with a landscape and resources controlled largely by the federal government. Jeff LaLande is an archaeologist and historian. A resident of the Rogue River Valley for over forty-five years, he has written several publications on the ethnohistory and history of southern Oregon.

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