The Native Americans living in this region befor settlers came were the Northern Paiute, enemy of the Tenino and Wasco tribes.
Peter Skene Ogden was the first white to explore this area when he led a fur trapping crew for the Hudson's Bay Company in 1826.
Harney County evolved from the southern two-thirds of Grant County on February 25, 1889.
Harney was the original county seat, but fierce political battles ended with Burns as the county seat in 1890.
The Malheur River Indian Reservation was created by on March 14, 1871 and the Northern Paiutes within the Oregon state boundaries were settled there.
Descendants of these people form a tribal entity, the Burns Paiute Tribe, with 341 members, about 35% of which live on the reservation near Burns.
A small casino, the Old Camp Casino, and renting out tribal lands to local ranchers contribute to the tribal economy
The ancestors of these Paiutes originally had a million acre reservation in Mulheur County, but the Bannocks came recruiting braves to drive all white paople out of Oregon.
They engaged in battle with the army many times, and eventually lost the war and half of their braves, and the government closed their very reservation and moved what was left of the tribe to the reservation near Burns.