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Native Americans, Allies To Rally Against Inaccurate Bear River Massacre Reenactment

Robert Gehrke / YouTube
Footage shot by Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke of the Wellsville sham battle shows white men and women in red body paint.

Native American activists and their supporters will gather outside Wellsville City Hall on Wednesday to rally against the city’s controversial Founder’s Day “Sham Battle” between Mormon settlers and a Native American tribe. 

They want to keep pressure on city leaders to change the tradition, which they say is racially insensitive and historically inaccurate.

Darren Parry is chair of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. He plans to address the city council tonight about making changes.

“How cool would it be if we could come up and plan something jointly because we were here first,” Parry says. “And you could learn from our culture and we could learn from your culture and make our own histories together.”

More than 200 Shoshone Indians were killed in what’s now known as the Bear River Massacre. At Wellsville’s “Sham Battle," white men and women dress as Native Americans, paint their bodies red and pretend to attack Mormon settlers.  

Earlier this week, Wellsville City officials apologized in a statement. They said they’re working with the Shoshone Tribe to more accurately portray the battle. 

View footage of the 2017 Wellsville Sham Battle recorded by reporter Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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