LCPD Original Territories Researcher Nolan Brown assists tribal elder Doyle Punkin with the prayer at the Teton Creek Corridor sign dedication Saturday, July 10.
By LORI ANN EDMO
DRIGGS — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Language and Culture Preservation Department and Teton Creek Corridor collaborators dedicated a sign that includes a tribal welcome at the Teton Creek Corridor trail head July 10 in Driggs.
The project is a collaborative effort between local non-profits, private citizens, the city of Driggs and Teton County. It established a new 2.5 mile pathway from Cemetery Road to Stateline Road along Teton Creek for non-motorized use that is subject to seasonal closure to protect critical winter range for moose, elk and deer. It maintains farmlands along the Corridor through conservation easements, improves and protects wildlife habitat, along with stream habitat.
Tribal elder Doyle Punkin did a prayer at the site, Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer talked about the challenges faced and the need to do more to restore the area. LCPD Director Louise E. Dixey welcomed attendees to the Tribes homelands and emphasized the importance to remember the homelands.
FHBC Chairman Devon Boyer speaks.
The Tribes LCPD program has been working with the Teton Creek Corridor partners since December 2020 on the signage. Nolan Brown LCPD Original Territories researcher said the partners have been very gracious in working with them and they look for more interpretation at the site because there’s lots of trails where the Tribes can talk about our people.
The tribal welcome explains, “The Shoshone and Bannock peoples heritage spans the valleys, rivers, streams, lava fields, deserts and mountains of Idaho. Understand the homelands of our people reach from the tallest peaks to the deepest canyons and beyond any state borders. These lands and waters we hold sacred. The original resources here once sustained bountiful fish, animals, plants and us the Newenee our word meaning people.” Only a few generations ago Newenee living here along the Tetons might refer to themselves as an Elk Eater Badaheyan Deka’a in Shoshone or Patehecha Teka’s in Bannock. Forcefully we were removed and settled on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Involuntarily we adapted to different ways of life. Yet our relationships with our original territories do not end, the endure in the present. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes cordially welcome you here to Teton Creek Corridor and wish you will join us and the Teton Creek Corridor Partners in appreciation and protection of the land and water for the future of all.”
Amy Verbeten, Friends of the Teton River executive director.
Amy Verbeten, Friends of the Teton River executive director spoke on behalf of the Teton Creek Corridor partners and said it is a great honor to be joined on the banks of Teton Creek by tribal members, Fort Hall community members. She originally thought to welcome everyone but it didn’t feel quite right to her, “To me if feels more appropriate to say welcome back.” “As you look around here you can see that the land and the water has been treated badly, those scars are obvious but I also want to acknowledge that people have also been treated badly here even if the scars on hearts and minds are left obvious,” she continued. “We the members of the Teton Creek Corridor Collaborative are working hard to restore the land, the creek, the plants and the animals that depend on them. But I think it’s even more important the kind of work we are all doing here today to restore a broader and more welcoming sense of community here. In so doing we hope to begin to restore and heal the hearts and minds and souls of all of the people who love and depend on this land and this water who have in the past, who do today and in the future.”
She said they’re deeply grateful for the leadership and the contributions of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to the project for their guidance and support. “We look forward to continuing to learn from and work with you as we grow this work together.”
A walk run was conducted along the trail where many tribal members participated. The LCPD served a sack lunch afterward.
Donna Thompson and Lynette Dixey walk the trail.