Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Where I was on January 29.


As regular readers know, January 29, 1863 is the date of the Massacre at Bear River, during which US Army soldiers slaughtered hundreds of Shoshoni Indians, many of them old people, women, and children. It was the deadliest massacre of Indians by the military in the history of the West.
    For many years, members of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation have met at the site to commemorate the lives and deaths of their ancestors, who were nearly wiped out in the massacre. The public is graciously hosted at the ceremonies.
    This year, 2021, things were different.
    Owing to the Covid pandemic, the affair was smaller in scale, with formal invitations extended only to members of the Band. Some interested parties, including yours truly, drove to the site to honor the day in whatever way was possible. We were welcomed.
    But, more important, for the first time the ceremonies were held in a new location—on bluffs above the river bottom on land owned—for the first time in 158 years—by the Band, and near where the Boa Ogoi Cultural Interpretive Center is taking shape. (Boa Ogoi means Big River in Shoshoni, and is the traditional name for the Bear River.)
    Pictured is the relatively small but caring crowd at the commemoration; former tribal chairman and main force behind the Interpretive Center, Darren Parry; and tribal elder Gwen Timbimboo Davis. Both Parry and Davis are descendants of Sagwitch Timbimboo, tribal leader who was wounded at but survived the Massacre, and held the remnants of the band together in the aftermath.
    Donations toward the development of the Boa Ogoi Cultural Interpretive Center are welcome, and certainly a worthwhile expenditure for lovers of Western History who recognize the importance of remembering even its darkest days.

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