SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation is on a mission to make sure hundreds of tribal members who were killed by U.S. troops in the 1863 Bear River Massacre are never forgotten with a new cultural center in southeastern Idaho.
Darren Parry said he developed a deep respect for the site from frequent visits with his grandmother.
“She would say that if you’re here at just the right time in the evening sometimes you can hear the cries of the little ones for their mothers,” he said. “She instilled in me a love for my people.”
He hopes the center will teach others about Shoshone history, so they can appreciate it the way he does.
The tribe purchased about 1 square mile (3 square kilometers) of the massacre site for $1.75 million last January, two days before Parry and the Shoshone Nation commemorated the 155th anniversary of the Bear River Massacre. Between 250 and 500 Shoshone men, women and children were killed by Col. Patrick Connor and his federal troops on Jan. 29, 1863.
The site is designed to be minimalistic by being built into the earth.
Michael Gross, a tribal councilman and Parry’s cousin, said incorporating the landscape into the design was key. He thinks it will help to foster education and understand his people’s story.
“Everything they did was based off the land. That’s how they survived. The land was of great importance for a lot of reasons,” Gross said. “The design encapsulates everything we’re about.”
The Shoshone Nation is also working with the Utah State University College of Natural Resources to clean up the site and return it to the state it was in in 1863, with more willows and vegetation.