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Return of the Boise Valley People to the tribes' ancestral lands in Boise

Posted at 3:32 PM, Jun 14, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — Every year since 2011 the Shoshone-Bannonck, Shoshone-Paiute, Owyhee, Burns-Paiute, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs return to the Boise Valley.

However, if you look back at history Eagle Rock Park near Warm Springs was where these tribes that stretch from Oregon to Montana and down to Nevada would meet every summer.

"You could think about this Boise Valley area to us Shoshone people as like a metropolitan area like New York City," said Nolan Brown of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe. "It was the trade hub, it was the business and it’s the arts."

We tagged along on a nature walk where children did a language scavenger hunt, allowing leaders to pass on the language of the Shoshone, Bannock, and Paiute to the next generation so it doesn't get lost.

The children react to seeing a snake

"It is absolutely critical for our youth to learn our languages because there is so much knowledge embedded within our languages," said Bailey Dann, who led the nature walk. "If our languages were to be lost then that knowledge would no longer be transmitted."

It's important for the tribes to transmit their story. Nolan Brown works in the Language and Cultural Preservation Department with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and they are working on several endeavors to have their own people tell the history of their ancestors.

The Language and Cultural Preservation Department booth

"The different portrayals of our people are coming from the outside perspective and they do not have the cultural sensitivity or the cultural awareness that they should have," said Brown. "It is important because we are still a living breathing people who have values and connections to these lands."

So every year they meet at this spot in Boise to come together to keep cultural traditions alive, teach the next generations, and work together to figure out how to make sure their history doesn't get swept away.

Bailey Dann teaching language

"This land is our ancestral territory, this is our home," said Dann. "Our ancestors were buried here and we return here every year, we were forcibly removed from this area and forced to walk to our reservations."

The Return of the Boise Valley People kicked off on Thursday at Boise City Hall. It will continue on Saturday when the Idaho National Guard will dedicate a sports complex at Gowen Field to the tribes at 2:00 p.m.