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Native Americans give a cultural demonstration in Sun Valley during Wagon Days weekend in 2018.

A relatively new Wagon Days tradition featuring Native Americans with ancestral ties to the Wood River Valley will continue this year with an exhibition powwow at Festival Meadows in Sun Valley.

“We welcome all the people, visitors and residents of the Wood River Valley to attend and participate in the dance presentation and demonstration,” said Fort Hall Tribal Court Judge Leo Arriwite, organizer of the event.

In addition, a newly expanded cultural exhibition at Forest Service Park in Ketchum will provide historical background on the Shoshone and Bannock tribes.

“The Wood River Valley was and still is visited by the first people, who are the Northern Shoshoni people or Wihi’Nite, meaning “from the knife’s edge,” and the Sheepeater Shoshoni people,” Arriwite said. “The Bannock or Pah’Nite means ‘from the water’s edge,’ and they came later, after the introduction of the horse by the Spaniards.”

The dancing, singing and drumming performances will take place before the parade on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on the grassy hillside just east of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church. The natural amphitheater will resonate with the traditional drumming and singing of the Ghost Canyon drum group. Look for the tipis and you will know you are there.

Following the performance, the general public is invited to ask dancers and performers to take group pictures in front of the tipis.

“Don’t be afraid to ask to take a picture,” Arriwite said.

He said oral history presentations may also take place during the performance or at Forest Service Park.

Arriwite is a member of the Agai Dika (Salmon-eater) band of the Northern Shoshoni.

“The Northern Shoshoni people are considered a horse culture people and lived in a region that stretched from Canada to Mexico,” he said. “The Sheepeater Shoshoni [Tuku Dika] are from the same area as their dominant relatives the Northern Shoshoni, but preferred to remain in the high mountains of Wyoming, southwest Montana and central Idaho, which is where the Wood River Valley is located.”

Native men, women and children will participate in the powwow dance performances, including the Traditional Dance and the Owl Dance, “which is our version of the two-step,” Arriwite said.

Other dances will include the Traditional Men’s Sneak Up and the Women’s Jingle Dance.

“To end the performance, the audience will be asked to come and dance with all the dancers in the round dance,” Arriwite said.

The Community Library Center for Regional History will have a new traveling exhibit titled “In Good Faith” at the Regional History Museum at Forest Service Park in Ketchum from Aug. 28 through Oct. 26. The exhibit is curated by Orlan Svingen, professor of history at Washington State University, and his students. It tells the story of the 1868 Virginia City Treaty between the United States government and the Shoshoni Tribe, which was never ratified by the government. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the 57-minute documentary “In Good Faith,” which focuses on the treaty, signed in 1868 by Chief Tendoy, leader of the Mixed-Band of Shoshone, Bannock and Sheepeater people in southwestern Montana Territory.

Tendoy ceded 32,000 square miles of aboriginal territory in 1870 for a permanent treaty reservation in central Idaho. The treaty, however, was never enacted. In 1875, the United States accepted this treaty reservation cession of 32,000 square miles in exchange for a temporary reservation in the Salmon River country of Idaho. But In 1905, the U.S. rescinded its temporary reservation, prompting the Mixed-Band’s 200-mile removal south to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

The exhibit tells this story through text panels, photographs, paintings, film and contemporary Shoshone artisan work and craft objects.

“We are grateful to be able to share the decades of collaborative work between the Shoshone-Bannock tribe and the students and faculty at WSU,” said Mary Tyson, director of regional history. “This telling of the Virginia City Treaty and the case for reparations is a powerful story for all ages.”

For more information, visit comlib.org.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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