Is Boise State University built on land that was stolen from the Shoshone-Bannock Native American tribe? Some BSU students claim it is, and events that take place on campus are started with a moment of silence in honor of this claim.
The Shoshone-Bannock tribe was originally two tribes who joined together.
“The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall are comprised of the eastern and western bands of the Northern Shoshone and the Bannock, or Northern Paiute, bands. Ancestral lands of both tribes occupied vast regions of land encompassing present-day Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and into Canada. The tribes are culturally related, and though both descend from the Numic family of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic phylum, their languages are dialectically separate. When the Northern Paiutes left the Nevada and Utah regions for southern Idaho in the 1600s, they began to travel with the Shoshones in pursuit of buffalo. They became known as the Bannocks.”Advertisement
Joe Engstrom is the Associate Vice President of Financial Affairs at BSU. This position is “the primary representative of student organizations to ASBSU and is responsible for chairing and managing the Funding Board.” Engstrom told the Idaho Dispatch,
“As a Boise State student and as a Representative of the Frank Church Institute, we, as a community, continue to honor and acknowledge the ancestral, cultural, and unceded territory of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe on which Boise State University sits.”
Engstrom used the phrase “unceded territory” in his comment. Dictionary.com defines “ceded” to mean,
“to transfer, make over, or surrender (something, especially territory or legal rights)”
The Frank Church Institute mentioned by Engstrom is a nod to the late Idaho Senator Frank Church.
“The Frank Church Institute was established in 1982 as the Frank Church Chair of Public Affairs at Boise State University, to honor the achievements and to carry forward the principles of one of Idaho’s most distinguished native sons, Senator Frank Church.Advertisement
The Institute, which is housed within the School of Public Service at Boise State University, emphasizes to its students those ideas which the Senator held dear—a strong belief in the rule of law, eloquence firmly based on reason, and an unwavering faith in the American political system.”
Boise State’s website goes on to explain,
“The mission of the Frank Church Institute is education, leadership, and public service through promoting civic engagement and understanding of public policy with a focus on democracy, the environment, and international relations, in partnership with the School of Public Service at Boise State University.”
The Native Lands: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgement explains that people have a responsibility to honor native communities in this particular way they have detailed.
Honor Native Land Guide (Public)
“We call on all individuals and organizations to open public events and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land.
Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth….
For more than five hundred years, Native communities across the Americas have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of violent efforts to separate them from their land, culture, and each other. They remain at the forefront of movements to protect Mother Earth and the life it sustains. Today, corporate greed and federal policy push agendas to extract wealth from the earth, degrading sacred land in blatant disregard of treaty rights. Acknowledgment is a critical public intervention, a necessary step toward honoring Native communities and enacting the much larger project of decolonization and reconciliation. Join us in adopting, calling for, and spreading this practice.”
Engstrom also told the Idaho Dispatch that merely acknowledging the “unceded territory” of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe isn’t enough. He did not elaborate on what more should be done.
“This acknowledgement is not enough, but remembering our true history is important and something Boise State University is committed to doing.”
Tags: Acknowledgement, Associated Students of Boise State University, Boise State University, Fort Hall, Frank Church Institute, Idaho, Joe Engstrom, Native Land, Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, U.S. Department of Arts and Culture