There’s a recurring line in the musical Hamilton that George Washington says to Alexander Hamilton: “You have no control over who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”
In this episode, we talk about two women were determined to take control and make sure the true story of their people was told:
Mae Timbimboo Parry, historian and matriarch of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone. Mae Timbimboo Parry successfully lobbied the National Park Service to change the name of “The Battle of Bear River” to “The Bear River Massacre” in recognition of the near-annihilation of her tribe by U.S. cavalry there.
Betty Sawyer, Community Engagement Coordinator in Access and Diversity at Weber State University and an activist on issues of racial justice in Utah for over 40 years. Betty Sawyer was an important part of the effort to get Martin Luther King Day recognized as an official holiday in Utah and is the director of the Utah Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival and Holiday.
Both women had to first learn their histories for themselves. Once they did, it took decades of work to get that history recognized both nationally and in Utah, and their efforts have left a lasting impact on the state.