Eagle Rock :: Castle Rock Reserve – Native American Sacred Ground - After 12,000 years of Native American occupation, the last one hundred have been the most destructive, even our graveyards have been erased

Boise woman works to protect Castle Rock Reserve and burial ground site

Boise, Idaho (AP) 9-09 A Boise woman has achieved her goal of having protected a sacred American Indian site in Boise and erecting a stone tribute marking the area. Betty Foster is now attempting to have trails in the Castle Rock Reserve named for tribes that once occupied the region and used the area as a healing site and burial ground. The city bought some land and asked the East End Neighborhood Association to raise $75,000 to buy remaining parcels for the reserve. The association succeeded, and about 50 acres adjacent to the Quarry View Park on Old Penitentiary Road have been set aside in perpetuity. “We have part of Boise’s history, Native American history, in our own back yard,” Foster told the Idaho Statesman.

“People walk here, and they don’t know it’s sacred land.” The Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute knew the area as Eagle Rock. Foster helped raise $900 and last spring the city erected the tribute stone that’s etched with an image of two feathers. Most of the money for the stone came from Foster’s family. She set up an account with the city’s Heritage Trust program, and since 2006 gifts from family members have come in the form of donations to the fund. “Foster represents the best of what volunteering is about,” said Lynette Gould with the Heritage Trust. “Her intentions were really pure.”

Foster cried when the stone was installed because many of her friends who also worked to preserve the area have died, including Merle Wells; Benson Gibson and Joe Prior from the Duck Valley Reservation; and Christina Broncho from the Fort Hall Reservation. Foster has lived in the east side of Boise with her family for five decades, and thinks the reserve could be the reason she ended up there. “Maybe this is it,” she said.

Sacajawea Shoshoni

Native Americans (Various Shoshone Tribes and Bannocks) once inhabited the Boise Valley and are said to have gathered at a remote site in the foothills where an outcropping of rocks dramatically jets out and touches the sky. At that time nearby geothermal hot springs fed into small creeks and formed bathing ponds frequented by the Shoshone, Bannock, and Paiute Tribes.

The Boise Valley was a peaceful gathering place and other traveling tribal nations were welcomed at the hot water springs which were used for healing and spiritual reasons. The tribes of Duck Valley and Fort Hall Indian Reservations tribes report that the Castle/Eagle Rock area near the hot springs were once a healing, ritual and burial site for their ancestors.

In 1990 the East End Neighborhood Association in conjunction with the Native American Tribes began a campaign to protect Castle/Eagle Rock from development. In a City Council meeting Benson Gibson, former tribal council member of Duck Valley Reservation, described Castle Rock as a "puha point" – a power point – a source of rejuvenation and spiritual healing.

Hobby Hevewah of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation further commented, "Castle Rock is a special place for us to worship. We want to protect our grave sites and our sacred area." Corbin Harney expressed a similar sentiment about the Castle Rock area when he wrote "Without respect and without our culture we have nothing. One of our responsibilities is to protect our ancestors…"

The campaign to protect Castle Rock was successful. The property was purchased from the developer with funds raised by EENA, the Shoshone - Bannock tribes, and the City of Boise. The site was officially named Castle Rock Reserve. Boise City Parks & Recreation, following consultation with the tribes, relocated the trails at Castle Rock in order to promote the conscientious and respectful use of the land and to avoid interference with possible burial locations. With the assistance of BLM and EENA volunteers, Boise City reintroduced 3000 native plants to the area to signify a healing of this important site.

Betty Foster approached Boise's Parks & Recreation Department in 2006 with a project to raise the awareness of Castle Rock's historical significance. She raised funds and helped design the Castle Rock Reserve tribute stone near the Bacon Drive entrance. Betty is a dedicated wife, mother, former school librarian, active volunteer, and continues to share her knowledge with our community.

The Castle Rock Reserve tribute stone is a poignant reminder that the rocks jetting out of the hillside that touch the sky are an important part of Idaho's Native American history. Visitors will appreciate the peaceful surroundings, expanse of open sky, views of the Boise Valley area, and the river that lies below. Let them also be filled with a sense of the past, present and future converging in a moment of time. Listen closely and you may hear a faint whisper on the breeze saying… tread gently for you are on sacred ground.

For more information:

- "Eagle Rock" is sacred to all-letter from the tribes and Land Use Policy Commissioner, Hobby Hevewah

- Letter to Governor Cecil Andrus from Merle Wells re: burial site at Castle Rock

- Letter to Lee Dillion, Boise Planning and Zoning Commission member from Thomas Green, State Archaeologist

- Idaho Statesman Article 1/22/1893 stating that human bones were found in Castle Rock area

Sacajawea Shoshoni

An East Ender sees her goal realized: a monument at what the Valley's Native American inhabitants called Eagle Rock

Betty Foster, 77, remembers taking long walks and flying kites in the Castle Rock Reserve next to Quarry View Park.BY ANNA WEBB -

Idaho Statesman - Published: 09/13/09

When Betty Foster was a school librarian, she would quiz students to find out what their favorite music was. Then, shattering the old-school idea of a quiet library, she'd blast the tunes at 7:30 a.m., luring kids in from the hall. At first, they came for the music. Pretty soon, they came in to talk about books. So it was natural for Foster to find a creative way to educate Boiseans about a special piece of local terrain, the Castle Rock Reserve. Nearly 50 acres, set aside in perpetuity as a sacred Native American site, sit adjacent to Quarry View Park on Old Penitentiary Road.

Boiseans know the site as Castle Rock, but its first name, given by tribes native to the area, including the Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute, was Eagle Rock. This spring, thanks to $900 raised by Foster, the city erected a tribute stone etched with an image of two feathers and a reminder about the area's significance. Under the tutelage of local historian Merle Wells, Foster has become an expert on the reserve's history, and its use by tribes as a healing site and burial ground. "We have part of Boise's history, Native American history, in our own back yard," Foster said. "People walk here, and they don't know it's sacred land."

Foster thinks she ended up in the East End, where she's lived with her family for five decades, for a reason. "Maybe this is it," she said. Most of the money for the stone was raised within the Foster family. Foster set up an account with the city's Heritage Trust program. Since 2006, every time a celebration rolled around - her birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas - family members donated to the fund in lieu of giving Foster a gift. "Foster represents the best of what volunteering is about. Her intentions were really pure," said Lynette Gould with the Heritage Trust. When Foster saw the stone installed this year, she cried. The moment was bittersweet. Many of her friends who worked hardest on preserving the area have died, including Merle Wells; Benson Gibson and Joe Prior from the Duck Valley Reservation; and Christina Broncho from the Fort Hall Reservation. They didn't get to see the tribute stone. Foster said her work isn't done. Her next goal: persuading the city to rename trails in the area for Native American Tribes - who occupied the area for over 12,000 years.