Harney County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is included in the eight-county definition of Eastern Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,422. The county seat is Burns. 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. 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 known European to explore this area in 1826 when he led a fur brigade for the Hudson's Bay Company.
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 Paiute within the Oregon state boundaries were settled there. Descendants of these people form a federally recognized tribal entity, the Burns Paiute Tribe, which had 341 members in 2008. Fewer than 35.5% of the tribal members live on the Burns Paiute Indian Colony near Burns. The tribe earns revenue from a small casino, the Old Camp Casino, and renting out communal tribal lands for grazing rights to local ranchers.