Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Natives to return to Camas Prairie

Dancing, singing and fun run in Fairfield this weekend

Express Staff Writer

The Army's 12th Infrantry waged one of the last wars against Western tribes during the Bannock War of 1878. The conflict raged for months across southern Idaho and as far away as the Columbia River, involving 2,000 Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute warriors.

The conflict began on the Camas Prairie, which surrounds Fairfield about 35 miles southwest of Ketchum on U.S. Highway 20.

The source of the conflict was a skirmish between white settlers with livestock and natives who had gathered camas bulbs and hunted on the Camas Prairie for many generations.

This weekend, the city of Fairfield will host a reconciliation of cultures when Shoshone and Bannock Indians from Fort Hall Reservation come to town for traditional dancing, and some fun and games.

"It's an interesting relationship," said Ed Reagan, publisher of the Camas Courier newspaper in Fairfield. "As a chamber event, the goal is to get people to come here, spend some time, support our local businesses, to get out of the big cities and to a smaller town and enjoy themselves."

The Camas Lily Days Festival combines two days of fun runs, traditional tribal dances, free fishing and communal meals. Last year Claudio Broncho, a resident of Fort Hall, oversaw the roasting of Camas bulbs dug from Camas Prairie.

Camas bulbs, long a native staple, were lifesaving for the Lewis and Clark expedition through Lemhi Shoshone territory in 1805. This week, the bulbs are blooming in a sea of blue flowers across Camas Prairie.

Five years ago, tribal leaders organized a Memorial Day run into Centennial Marsh to celebrate the traditional gathering of camas bulbs. Two years later, Wes Fields, a fourth-generation Camas Prairie farmer, joined with Carolyn Boyer-Smith, cultural affairs director for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, to reinvent the Camas Lily Days Festival as a cross-cultural affair.

Fields said he and his wife became close friends with tribal members, especially after attending a summer pow-wow at Fort Hall several years ago.

"We left in awe and with a lot of respect. We appreciate their culture," he said.

Tony Evans:

Camas Lily Days events:

Saturday, June 2

- 8 a.m., Senior Center Breakfast and Yard Sale.

- 8-11 a.m., Kids Free Fishing Derby at a pond one mile east of Fairfield.

- 10 a.m., Sho-Ban Indian Run to Centennial Marsh. Meet at the caboose in Fairfield City Park.

Sunday, June 5

- 8 a.m., Chamber Breakfast, City Park.

- 9 a.m., 10k, 5k, free Kids Runs, $20 entry includes T-shirt.

- 10 a.m. to 2p.m., Flora and Fauna Guide, naturalists on duty at Centennial Marsh observation point.

- 1 p.m., Sho-Ban Indian Dance and Games in traditional costumes, Fairfield City Park.

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