The Northwest Band of the Shoshone tribe is turning the site of a devastating tragedy more than 150 years ago — the Bear River Massacre — into a place of cultural restoration and healing.
The massacre site — or Boa Ogoi (which means Big River) — is sacred to the Shoshone people and that is where they will build a Cultural and Interpretive Center.
Will Munger, a doctoral student at Utah State University, is the liaison to the tribe.
“It’s been a dream since the massacre to return to the sacred site and help in its stewardship,” Munger explained. “This has been going on for many, many generations and we just happen to live in the right time that this can happen and the land can be hopefully restored.”
Munger explained what visitors will find inside the new center.
“The Shoshone are going to be telling their story of their history and their people and their presence on the land and their current contributions to Northern Utah,” he added. “And when you’re down on the land what we’re hoping is that the riparian areas, the areas next to the creek and the Bear River, are cleaned up and the water quality is cleaned up and the plants also reflect the stories and the culture of the Northwest Band of the Shoshone people.”
Another important goal of the tribe is to restore the ecology of Boa Ogoi to what it might have looked like in 1863.
The site is north of Preston, Idaho on the Bear River and encompasses the river bottom and an upland meadows area where the center will sit.