Committee Makes Changes To Controversial ShamBattle In Wellsville

Oct 13, 2017

  

People gather outside the Wellsville City Hall to hear the council talk about the Sham Battle
Credit Kyle Todecheene / The Utah Statesman

The Wellsville City Council recently formed a committee to make changes regarding the battle re-enactment, which originally involved white citizens dressing up as Native Americans and re-enacting a version of the Bear River Massacre that Native Americans say is historically inaccurate.

When the committee met Tuesday, they agreed to discontinue the tradition of white citizens dressing up as Native Americans in the battle. Instead they will invite members of the Shoshone Tribe to share parts of their culture during the annual Founder’s Day Parade.

 Darren Parry, vice chairman of the Northwestern Shoshone Tribe and a member of the committee, said he has several plans for the tribe's involvement in the parade. 

 

“We’d love to set up a teepee and kind of show you what would be inside of a Native American teepee generally, and then we have welders that do a lot of bead work and a lot of buckskin work, panning and things like that and they make moccasins and gloves and so I can envision us bringing, all of them would come up," de said. "They not only show you how to do it, but they sell some of their items, too.” 

 

Parry added the tribe will provide activities for all attendees.

 

“When I go speak at elementary and junior highs," he said, "I teach the kids a friendship dance, it’s real small and simple, so we’d have something for everybody I think.”

 Parry also said he’s proud of the committee’s decision.

“I’ve known the mayor for a long time, so I was pretty confident all along that they’d do the right thing at the end…It’s got to be hard, he’s walking a fine line because of the tradition and how long they’ve been doing it, but that doesn’t mean you continue something that’s pretty offensive to another group, and not only to the group but offensive to most of this community.”