Members of the community and many visitors will join the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation on Wednesday, Jan. 29, to memorialize those lost in the 1863 Bear River massacre northwest of Preston.
The guest speaker will be Larry Echo Hawk, a former general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who currently works for the Utah Attorney General's Office as a liaison for Utah's Native American population. He also served in the Obama administration as the assistant secretary of the interior for Indian Affairs.
Echo Hawk recently helped negotiate a deal that will finally, and for the first time, bring electricity to an area in Southern Utah, which is home to a large Navajo population, said Darren Parry, chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone.
Parry said Wednesday's ceremony will also include an announcement on groundbreaking for the interpretive center the tribe plans to build overlooking the massacre site. Originally, the site for the center was located next to Idaho Highway 91. However, a high water table posed significant problems to the planned center, and since its announcement, the tribe has acquired land on a ridge west of the massacre site that overlooks the entire valley.
To date, the tribe has raised $2.5 million of the $5 million the center is projected to cost. The center will be used not only to memorialize the site, but to offer the public information on the people who made their home there before the West was colonized by European settlers.
In addition to Echo Hawk's remarks, Parry said Brenn Hill and Michael Grose will perform songs each have written about the 1863 tragedy, and the names of those victims who have been identified will be read.
Following, those who gather for the ceremony will be invited to a chili luncheon prepared by the members of the Northwestern Band.
Parry recently wrote a book detailing the Bear River Massacre from his people's perspective through memories recorded by his grandmother, Mae Timbimboo Parry. He will be at a book signing on Feb. 27, from 6-8 p.m. at the Larsen-Sant Library in Preston.