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Drewsey Boom Displaces Paiute Indians

The land around Drewsey, Ore., was once a popular camping spot for the Paiute Indians.  They fished for salmon in the North Fork of the Malheur River, hunted deer, and dug edible roots and onions.

That ended when the federal government created the Malheur Indian Reservation in 1872 and tried to convert the Indians into farmers.  Six years later after the Bannock Indian War, the U.S. Army forced some 543 Paiute from Nevada and Oregon and Bannock prisoners to the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington Territory.

By 1883 the government returned the Malheur Reservation to the public domain and invited land claims.  That year, Abner Robbins and E.E. Perrington plotted a town site and secured the Drewsey post office. 

The town prospered through the 1920’s, bolstered by two lumber mills, abundant regional crops and the Pacific Livestock Company as the largest employer.  Drewsey declined after being bypassed by the railroad and the Central Oregon Highway and the closure of the livestock company during the Great Depression

Today Drewsey has a few homes, a post office, general store-garage, tavern-restaurant, two churches, elementary school and post office.  It attracts fishermen in the summer and hunters in the fall.

 

"Drewsey Rural Community." Harney County Economic Development - HCED. 2016. Web. 20 June 2016. .

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.