Native American remnants still abound in Cache Valley

Elisabeth Cropper, the curator at the Hyrum City Museum hold a spearhead that is part of their collection visitors can see there.

There are two ancient burial mounds just north of Franklin. The mounds were recorded on a map drawn by James Martineau in 1876, when the U.S. Government redrew lines of borders for Idaho and Utah.

Two ancient burial mounds in Franklin County were recorded by James Martineau in 1876 an are part of a rich Native American history in Cache Valley.

Deon Kingsford at one time owned the land where the mounds were located. As the story goes, one day while plowing, he got too close and uncovered some human remains. It bothered him and he quickly reburied them, said his daughter Deanna Foster.

Foster remembers as a youngster visiting her grandmother’s home that overlooks the ancient mounds.

The Indians would camp down by the mounds and do ceremonial dances,” she said. “It was scary. My grandmother told me not to worry they wouldn’t be there long and they soon left.”

Ken Canon, a USU anthropologist who worked on the Bear River Massacre site, said he had heard about burial sites in Franklin County.

“If they are burial grounds, I would guess [they are] from the Freemont period, 2000 and 700 years ago,” he said. “Idaho does have specific laws that protect burial sites.”

He said the University doesn’t usually go on private land, unless asked, or a private landowner wants to develop the land.

Elisabeth Cropper, Museum curator at the Hyrum City Museum Curator Elisabeth Cropper holds an arrow made to show how Native Americans attach an arrowhead to a shaft.

There are guidelines and we consult with the different tribes before we do anything,” Cannon said. “We typically consult with a number of tribes.

Native American artifacts were common across Cache Valley, including the Idaho side.

People have harvested arrowheads, tools, grinding stones, beads, and other artifacts that gave a rich history of the indigenous people in the area.

Many sites are on private property.  Taking the artifacts seemed like an innocent act when there were no laws to protect the sites.

Elisabeth Cropper, the museum curator at the Hyrum City Museum, said the Native American artifacts are a great teaching tool, but some of the artifacts could be sacred.

“Some are scavenged from public and private property,” Cropper  said. “We try to go to the Shoshone tribe and ask them if it is appropriate to display before we put it out.”

She said some of the artifacts they have on display came because of the friendship they have developed with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.

Trisha Canaday from the Idaho Historical Society said there are several sites along the Bear River.

A collection of Native American artifacts in the Hyrum Museum found in the southern end of Cache Valley.

“It is a hot area for the Freemont culture,” she said. “There is no legal reason we would disclose where sites are. It opens them for issues of looting.”

Canaday said she can’t speak about the mounds, but discourages people from bothering them.

The sheriff usually gets the first call when human remains are found on private property. If it is determined they are ancient remains, archeologist generally get involved, she said.

“If for some reason someone wants to develop land, then our office gets involved,” she explained. “We go through, record the artifacts and curate them.”

She said there is very specific process they use.

“We have talk to every tribe in the vicinity,” she explained. “We not only talk to the Shoshones, but the county and the southern part of the country before we excavate.”

Darren Parry, Shoshone tribal chairman for the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, said it’s hard thing  for people to understand.

Elisabeth Cropper, the curator at the Hyrum City Museum goes through some donated old books and journals. She said Native American artifacts are a great teaching tools.

When people take something, it’s a part of the history of people from thousands of years ago,” he said.  “You are removing that culture and history.  You are erasing a people.”

Parry said there is not very much written about ancient people.

“Very few histories are true,” he said. “The only evidence we have is what they left behind. Let someone else come by and enjoy the history of that part of the world.”


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