Brian Thomas, Shoshone-Paiute, addresses the Boise City Council.
BOISE — The Boise City Council approved in a unanimous vote May 7, the name changes of Quarry View Park to Eagle Rock Park and Castle Rock Reserve to Chief Eagle Eye Reserve.
The vote occurred after Karen Bubb, Boise Arts and History Department, gave an introduction citing the work the city has done to support the original Boise Valley People such as issuing proclamations in 2017 and 2018 acknowledging the Return of the Boise Valley People event and in October 2018 declaring Indigenous Peoples Day. The resolutions in support of the name change indicate the commitment and mutual respect in making the city of Boise a vibrant and diverse place.
Lori Edmo, a descendant of original Boise Valley people explained how the cavalry forcibly removed ancestors from the area in the late 1800s when gold and silver was discovered. Tribal people were marched to different areas including the Shoshone-Bannock to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, Burns Paiute to Burns, Oregon, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in central Oregon, Shoshone-Paiute to the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Owyhee, Nev. and the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone in Fort McDermitt, Nev. She explained tribal people’s remains our throughout the Boise Valley and the name changes honor ancestors.
She said the Return of the Boise Valley People event was organized nine years ago for descendants to gather for fellowship and to share oral history one doesn’t read in history books. “It’s important to honor our ancestors, this is our homeland and important to us.”
Edmo explained her mother Maxine has military documents that are more than 100 years old handed down from her maternal grandfather Charlie Diggie where he, along with Captain Jim, a Boise Shoshone leader, had to get permission from the military to leave the Boise Valley and return to it. Council members had the opportunity to view them.
Brian Thomas, Shoshone-Paiute, explained his lineage, “We are indigenous to this valley – our people roamed the valley for survival,” recalling that salmon were abundant in the Boise and Weiser Rivers. “The reason why our ancestors should never be forgotten – we lived here and we are survivors of the Boise Valley,” he said. “Our people were here prior to statehood back in the territorial days – we’ve seen pictures of Boise Valley when the prison camps were set and teepees along the Boise River. Our ancestors lived and died here – there are a lot of remains here.” He noted the tribal people never do ask for much because the Boise Valley Treaty wasn’t ratified but are asking for support in honor of our ancestors.
Boise Mayor David Bieter said the presentations were really moving, “It makes a heck of a statement and we appreciate your presence.
Council member Holli Woodings made the motion to approve both resolutions with a second by Lisa Sanchez. “I thank everyone who worked on this,” and my hope this is only the first of many ways working with the indigenous population honoring our history in this valley. She said there’s a lot of ways to engage.
T.J. Thomson, council member, said it’s a long time coming and he really enjoyed the remarks. He was born and raised in Idaho Falls and said he always made a point to attend the Shoshone-Bannock Festival with his mother who’s an artist that painted indigenous people.
Council member Elaine Clegg said it’s ironic she grew up in the East End neighborhood of Boise and walked the foothills with her Ojibwe grandfather. “This is very special we’re now honoring the people who originally in this area.” She expressed appreciation to those who traveled to Boise in support. She asked those in support of the change to stand and the majority of the audience did.
Lisa Sanchez, council member, recalled her introduction to the city council in 2018 when her brothers and sisters from Duck Valley did an honor song, “that is how I was introduced to this great body.” Since then she’s felt much pride in being a Boisean and there’s been many steps towards reconciliation. She said revisiting the topic can be painful but thanked the descendants who are willing to stand up and reclaim what’s theirs. She said the name changes are in service to their ancestors and to the generations to come.
Council member Scott Ludwig said the vote is one of the greatest he’s had in the five years he’s served on the city council and thanked everyone for their presence.
Mayor Bieter echoed the city’s gratitude to the parks department, arts and history and all that came. “We know this is late in coming but we also recognized it’s an important thing to do. One of the joys of being mayor and on the council is we’ve been able to get these things right – this is a really special day for us.” He added that it is another step along the road to a “closer and warmer more fulfilling relationship for all us. Thank you again.”
A dedication ceremony will be conducted Friday, June 14 at 9:30 a.m. during the Return of the Boise Valley People event at Eagle Rock Park in Boise.