Chiefs walk in during the treaty reenactment July 3 at the Fort Bridger Histroical Site in Wyoming.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT BRIDGER, Wyo. — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and Eastern Shoshone Tribe honored ancestors at the Fort Bridger Treaty 150 year treaty reenactment on Tuesday, July 3.
Participants arrived to the site on Monday. Members of both tribes setup tipis to set the scene for the event. In the evening a light dinner was served, followed by a reenactment run through, story telling and 49 songs were sung.
A sunrise ceremony and flag raising greeted the reenactment day.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said there have been many changes over 150 years and thanked the Wyoming legislature for the work they did last session to recognize the importance of Native Americans in the history of the state and country.
“Their spirit and their contribution and the diversity and the culture cannot be overstated, what it means to us in Wyoming,” he said. Mead read a resolution, which supported nationwide public education about the heritage, history and contributions about Native American Tribes. It recognized the Eastern Shoshone and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes for their significant contribution to the success of the country and its future. Mead said the Tribes are following their ancestor’s path.
Chris Floyd, Fort Bridger State Historic Site superintendent, acknowledged the Wyoming Humanities Council for their contribution to the event, as well as the Fort Bridger Historical Association for their support, he thanked the re-enactors of the infantry and cavalry, and Bob Christensen for providing commemorative treaty coin souvenirs. He also thanked the State Parks Law Enforcement and the mounted deputies in attendance.
Lori Ann Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock and committee member organizer, spoke about Sho-Ban News Fort Bridger Treaty Special Edition and said it was available to attendees. She introduced Fort Hall Business Council Vice Chairman Ladd Edmo and FHBC Sergeant At Arms Lee Juan Tyler.
Ladd Edmo welcomed the large crowd in attendance. He said the Tribes always have to fight to protect tribal rights, even in modern times. He vowed to continue fighting for the future and the land.
Lee Juan Tyler said the event was historical and the treaty was sacred.
Lori Ann Edmo acknowledged the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Fort Hall Business Council for being supportive towards the event. She also acknowledged the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Language & Cultural Department Staff for their help in organizing the event for the past year along with the Eastern Shoshone.
Edmo said she was thankful they got the event done because it was all for the ancestors who are remembered today and will never be forgotten.
Shoshone-Bannock re-enactors included Zelphia Towersap as Bannock interpreter, Chief Taghee was represented by Irving Pokibro, sub-chiefs were Leo Ariwite, Darrell Shay, Lionel Boyer, Scott Amboh, James Tone. Shoshone-Bannock women in representation Ilene Williams, Esther Boyer, Carolyn Smith, Marilyn Dawes, Gwen Towersap, Louise E. Dixey, Alfreda Nagitsy and Lori Ann Edmo.
Caroline Mills, Eastern Shoshone, acknowledged members of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council in attendance, including Leslie Shakespeare, Chairman Clint Wagon, Nick Harris, Jodie McAdams, Karen Lacroix. Council member Vernon Hill could not make it, but was mentioned.
Mills thanked the drum group, the Big Wind Singers, for their contribution. The interpreter for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe was Ralphaelita Stump, narrator is Wade LeBeau, Willie LeClair did sign language. Willie Roberts represented Chief Washakie, sub-chiefs were Floyd Phillips, Vigil Mcleod and Kenny Mcleod. The ladies in the background in front of the teepees for the Eastern Shoshone were Raphaella Stump, Elaine Weed, Ula Tyler, Carmen Tyler, Hailey Weed, Jola LeBeau, Zita Shoyo, Patricia Shoyo, Cassie Weed and Caroline Mills.
Shoshone-Bannock tribal elder Lionel Boyer reenacts signing the treaty document.
Descendants from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes were asked to speak.
Darrell Shay thanked the community for allowing the tribes to commemorate the event.
“We can’t call it a celebration, on this day when we entered into this Fort Bridger Treaty with the United States government we gave up our independence,” said Shay.
Shay said the United States government agreed to take care of them in return for vast amounts of land that they had to turn over because the settlers and the government were threatening the tribal people. All the tribes were nomadic and followed the resources and sometimes the resources ended up being prime areas for settlement. They were also known as wintering areas for tribes.
“Eventually over the course of time, you know, we didn’t have no choice but to enter into treaties. That’s significant. We entered into a number of treaties that were unratified. This one here happened to be ratified, at least with the Shoshone and the Bannocks,” said Shay. He added the people roamed all over into the areas of Wyoming, into the Dakotas, Montana, Utah, Colorado and parts of Arizona, Nevada into the Sierra mountains, into California on up north to Oregon and parts of Washington and back into Idaho. He said giving up that much land was significant and it meant a lot.
Shay said himself, and Leo Ariwite were descendants of two treaty signers, who represented the Lemhi Shoshone.
Shay talked about how Article Six of the Fort Bridger Treaty outlines it’s considered a supreme law of the land.
“That’s why we hold this treaty here in such high regards,” he said.
Leo Ariwite said the last signature under the Bannocks, A-wite-etse, was his great grandfather, a Boise Shoshone. Ariwite talked about how the Shoshone and Bannock people were all related. He thanked the people for allowing the new generation, who know nothing about the treaty as to why it happened.
“Thank you for allowing us to come back and let us tell our story,” said Ariwite.
Chief Washakie’s great granddaughter was there to represent the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. She said Washakie was the only chief who got to pick his own reservation.
Anna Broncho, another descendent of Tetoby, a treaty signer, said she’s learning about her family history and was proud to be there representing as a descendant.
Young Chief Washakie, a descendant of Chief Washakie, said it was good to be at the event and was proud to represent his family. His father Colin Washakie also spoke about their family decadency and how it was important to him to pass the knowledge on to his sons.
John Washakie said the treaty is the most important thing to establishing and keeping the Wind River Indian Reservation. Over 18 years of serving on the business council he said they looked at it numerous times and fought for its behalf in court. He said it’s their home and all they have left and they will protect it.
Scott Amboh is a descendant of two treaty signers – Pan-sook-a-motse and Chief Taghee — he was proud to be at the event.
Eastern Shoshone Business Council Chairman Clint Wagon honored the elders in attendance he said if it weren’t for the elders and ancestors of both tribes they wouldn’t be there at the event. He said he knows it’s an honor to be where history happened.
Lori Ann Edmo invited people to view the exhibits in the Fort Bridger Museum and mentioned now there was one, specifically on the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
Shoshone-Bannock elder Lionel Boyer said he respected the U.S. flag in honor of the many Native people who served and gave their lives up for the country.
“We’re still surviving as Indian people,” he said. “Many people look upon us as savages, turn that around. Look at yourself, who’s savage, whose got the greed. Who’s giving up land for lots of money? That’s not right. Mother Earth was here for us to be put on. We were taking care of it, our ancestors took care of this land,” he said.
Narrator for the reenactment, Wade LeBeau said sometimes there are harsh words on how the tribal people see things but they are their words and they’re the right words. He said many of the elders who spoke were veterans.
“For some of us it’s kind of bittersweet, because yes, this treaty means we are here, but it means we also gave up a lot,” he said.
LeBeau explained the sacred fire that was lit and hoped it would be lit every year on the day to help remember the treaty. He said everyone there today was a testament that it is still here, active and still enforceable today, 150 years later.
As narrator LeBeau said he would be speaking in English first and would hand it off to the Shoshone translator Ralphaelita Stump and the Bannock translator Zelphia Towersap. The Eastern Shoshone Tribe provided the reenactment script.
Shoshone-Bannock elder Merceline Boyer offered a prayer for the event. The reenactment began with a grand entry of chiefs as the women took their place sitting in front of the teepees.
During the reenactment a sacred pipe ceremony took place by Gifferd Osborne from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe.
The audience watched in awe as they were taken back to witness the same protocol that occurred 150 years ago at the same site.
When the reenactment was finished a Big Horse Dance took place that Starr Weed Jr. danced, along with a shake, buffalo and feast dance. The infantry reenactors demonstrated military exercises. After the feast, a giveaway dance and giveaway concluded the ceremony.
Idaho Youth Challenge Academy graduates.
By LACEY WHELAN
FORT HALL — Five graduates were honored at the Fort Hall Business Center Chambers June 27 at the Idaho Youth Challenge Academy Honoring Ceremony.
Sgt. Xavier Big Hair (Axe men 3, element leader), Airman 1st class Leroy Damon, Senior Airman Charlize Teton-Edmo, Staff Sgt. Amelia Montoya, and Senior Airman Andres Trevino (Scouts 4, element leader).
At the beginning of the ceremony the Spring Creek Singers sang a flag and a victory song. Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small welcomed everyone. Brig. Gen. Michael Garshak gave an overview of what the youth had achieved while in the program and also thanked everyone. He said he is proud of the work the students put in to catch up academically, without all the distractions and catch up on their school work, get physically fit, and to also pick up the tools to help them maintain the lifestyle into the future and that is what the Idaho youth challenge academy is. They’ve had several graduates from this area, over the years.
Idaho Youth Challenge director Trevor Sparrow also made an appearance. He congratulated the graduates. “Remember who you are, and return with honor.” While at the academy he saw it in each of the students, and they learned about the core values of the program, which are respect, integrity, courage, and commitment. He also seen the commitment to themselves, their tribes, and said they returned with honor and he appreciates that.
Jessica James presented a slideshow for everyone, which had photos of the students while attending the academy. They also were given certificates of achievement and were given a gift from the Fort Hall Business Council.
The graduates then went on to share their stories. Sgt. Xavier Big Hair said he didn’t know what to think when he left for the academy, but is glad he went through the program. Cadet Charlize Edmo said the biggest thing she noticed was being away from her family, and being homesick. She said she didn’t want to go at first, but when she saw Staff Sgt. Amelia Montoya, she stuck with her, and they both were happy to have each other because it was like having someone from home.
Amelia Montoya said she didn’t know what she was doing when she arrived, and had never seen her mom, Sunflower Begay cry, and said she didn’t want to cry. She also said she didn’t think she was going to make it, but she did and it forced her to step out of her comfort zone.
Damon said he also did not want to be there, but he says it’s a really good program. He said if anyone has kids that are acting up, just to send the kids there.
Trevino said the academy was a very hard place to go, on day zero he said it was very confusing. But it challenged him and made him get out of his comfort zone and to create goals of what he wanted to do in his future, and what it took to help him succeed later on. It also made him challenge himself. Trevino says before the academy he was going downhill, he didn’t care about school, or anything he did. But thanks to the people who helped him fill out the necessary paper work, to get him into the program and he chose to personally go because he didn’t like the path he was on before the program. He also wants to thank the academy for getting him out the hole he was in.
The family members of the students also said a few words and all had said they were proud of the students for completing the program and coming back and they were thankful for everyone who had helped the students along their journeys. A couple of the student’s parents had said the kids were in a bad spot, and the program helped put them on the right path. Sunflower Begay, Amelia Montoya’s mother, said it was hard to know your child would be gone so long, and you know that you wont get to see them, but she knew it was the right thing for her to participate in. Begay knew that Amelia had a hard time dealing with her father’s passing, but was glad she was able to get back on the right path with the help of the program. She is grateful to everyone involved, and relieved to know there was people from here checking up on her, when she wasn’t able to. She also said she is so proud of Amelia, and is happy to see her setting an example for her little brothers and sisters.
Cadet Trevino’s mother said she thought it would be a good program for him as he was headed on the wrong path. She is glad he went because it took him back to the basics, and when her son came home he didn’t even want to touch the electronics. She said it really disciplines the kids, and makes them reflect on their lives. She noticed the change in her son when he came back, he was very disciplined and organized and he has been concentrating more on school. They all have their plan for after school, whether it’s military or to get a job. They have all these great life achievements and its all to this program. She thanks everyone involved, because before this program her son did not have the mindset he does now. She also thanks the community, and she sees that all the children who went through the program will have a bright future ahead of them.
LaGrand Coby, Xavier Big Hair’s grandfather said he’s glad the kids are learning to be away and getting to see other lifestyles, and he is happy and proud to see all the little Fort Hall kids “hanging tough” with all the other kids up at the academy. He is glad to see his grandson acting different and he had seen the change, he mentions that Big Hair is more open and talkative, and he wants to ride horse. Xavier still has the academy mentality, but it is something great all the kids accomplished. Coby also said he encourages Xavier to enlist with the military to accomplish things and accomplish your goals, and to see things outside Fort Hall. Coby praised the kids and told them they’ve all done a great job and says it’s an honor to sing for your guys.
Veteran Bill Brower also said he was proud of what the kids have done, he had heard about the honoring ceremony through Facebook. Brower told his personal story of being in the military as a “bomb loader” and also spent time in the Philippines, as well as Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He praised the program and said it has a lot to give the kids, and he is glad for them taking advantage of the great program.
The families and the students then were invited to have cake and refreshments and to celebrate their accomplishment.