Tribes plan for summer total eclipse

The morning on August 21 of this year, a Monday, will bring a solar eclipse across parts the U.S. including Oregon. The Warm Springs Reservation is in direct line to see the total eclipse.

Expect many visitors, as more populous areas—Portland and Eugene, for instance—are not in direct line to see the total eclipse.

This is an economic opportunity for the tribes, but one that also requires careful planning: August is the height of fire season, and vehicle traffic on the reservation could become an issue.

Meanwhile, plans are coming together for celebration and education events on the day of the eclipse, and during the weekend leading up to it.

Kah-Nee-Ta is already booked for that weekend, with a student group traveling to the resort from Japan.

Indian Head Casino is planning to feature Native entertainers on the days leading up to the eclipse. “We’re looking at having national level, and regional Native entertainers,” said Belinda Chavez, marketing director at the casino.

Indian Head is also planning to provide transportation for customers to exclusive viewing areas on the reservation.

Working with the casino, the Museum at Warm Springs has plans for a gathering on the museum grounds featuring tribal vendors and dance demonstrations.

NASA project

Warm Springs Ventures is partnering with NASA on a unique science experience for students.

These will be local students, joined by middle and high school students from elsewhere in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho.

Ventures in the past has partnered with the NASA Washington Space Grant Consortium. The partners launched a rocket at the Academy last summer as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exercise.

The NASA-tribal eclipse event could prove to be even more impressive: The plan is to launch helium balloons that will travel as far as the edge of outer space, said Aurolyn Stwyer, Ventures business and marketing director.

The balloons will be equipped with cameras that will be aimed at the earth, capturing images as the shadow of the moon passes across the state.

Visiting students can camp overnight in teepees. The balloon launch site will be at the Ventures Wolfe Point unmanned aerial vehicle launch area. The NASA Consortium explains:

“A solar eclipse gives a rare opportunity to view the atmosphere of the sun with our own eyes. Besides seeing the sun’s atmosphere—the corona— streaming off into space, structures of dense gas called prominences may also be visible.”

The Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium continues: “The generosity of the Warm Springs community provides an opportunity to experience to this event through the culture of the Northwest tribes.”

The reservation will not only see the total eclipse, but has another added feature: Mt. Jefferson is the only mountain in the path of the 2017 eclipse shadow. This is true even as the path of the eclipse will be from coast to coast.

“A bonus is the prospect of seeing Mt. Jefferson to the west darken as totality envelopes this prominent peak,” says to the website

The mountain will darken about 20 seconds before the shadow passes across the area of the Warm Springs community.

The 2017 total eclipse—also being called the American Eclipse, or the Great American Eclipse—will begin in the Pacific Ocean, and then move across the country from northwest to the southeast, passing over South Carolina and then out into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Oregon will be one of the most popular states to view the eclipse,” according to the website.

“While the rest of the U.S. offers a longer duration of totality, sections of the eclipse in Oregon offer the best weather prospects anywhere along the entire eclipse path.”

As the shadow passes over the reservation, the eclipse totality will last a little over two minutes.