Mae Timbimboo Parry is of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation of Utah. She spent part of her life in Washakie, and the other part in Clearfield, Utah. Traditionally, the Shoshone made clothing and accessories from buckskin to clothes themselves. Mae tanned the buckskin. Her grandson remembers that in her home, it smelled of smoked buckskin. Mae took the buckskin fashioned into gloves and decorated them. Men and women made gloves. She used beautifully colored beads and sewed them into necklaces, or into moccasins. Their tribe was known for their beadwork and the pattern of the Mountain Rose, a full red rose with green leaves. Members of the tribe hand-sewed buckskin clothing and moccasins out of necessity. In the Twentieth Century, when Mae threaded each bead, it was for someone she loved.

    During Mae’s childhood, it was the period of the English boarding schools for Indians. She and her sisters attended Sherman Institute in Riversite, California for three years. It was an Indian Boarding School. Can you imagine going to another state for grammar school? Mae studied hard and was on the school’s honor roll. There she learned to write well. She started writing down the stories of her people at the local high school in Garland, Utah. Her skill at writing would later be a boon to her tribe as their historian. During her life, she wrote in a field journal her field notes of important plants with her drawings of them. Since she wrote all this knowledge down in her journals and stories, the tribe has that heritage preserved.

    This Northwestern Shoshone woman never forgot her roots.  As part of the Shoshone culture, Mae always had a pot of stew on her stove in case a visitor popped in for any reason. Part of their culture was to take care of each other. She said to her grandson, “In our culture, you never have someone in your home without feeding them.” She was her tribe’s matriarch and historian. As a matriarch, Mae led by example. As a tribal historian, Mae told the story of their tribe in written records, sometimes for the first time in their tribe’s history. Often she related different oral histories of their tribe. As their storyteller, she made her people feel what their ancestors had felt. It was the tribal historian’s job to make sure their way of life would continue. She preserved their culture by hand-making moccasins with tribal designs and her art. At the end of her life, Mae had Parkison’s disease which hindered her arts and crafts. She remained a great storyteller and advocate for her people her whole life. For her activism and work, Mae has received awards. Zoom out and look at Mae’s significance in the history of her people. She first wrote down the knowledge she had learned of plants. As a direct descendant of the chief, storyteller, and tribal historian, Mae recorded the stories and history of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. She also had a profound effect on Darren Parry.

    The author of the book, The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History, Darren Parry is Mae Parry’s grandson. He now is a leader of the tribe. He said of his grandmother that she had an “unbreakable spirit.” She told of her grandfather who was twelve-years-old during the massacre but ran to escape. Mae advocated for the purchase of the land where the massacre happened, working to change public memory through a Shoshone paradigm. Until now, there were no books written by a Shoshone about the great Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. Through his efforts, the Boa Ogoi Cultural and Interpretive Center will be open to the public at the site of the Bear River Massacre. Darren Parry has been active in continuing his grandmother’s legacy and helping people see the massacre through the tribe’s perspective. The museum gift shop has Darren Parry’s book and copies of the beautiful painting of the minute before the Bear River Massacre from the tribe’s perspective. You can order online through our website, JohnHutchingsMuseum.org.

Bibliography

Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. https://nwbshoshone.squarespace.com/.

Parry, Darren. The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History. Salt Lake City: BCC, 2019.

Parry, Darren. “Mae Timbimboo Parry, Historian and Matriarch of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone.” Better Days 2020. https://www.utahwomenshistory.org/bios/mae-timbimboo-parry/.

Parry, Mae Timbimboo, from the journal of Mae Timbimboo Parry.