Bravest of the brave |

Bravest of the brave

Aaron Osowski, The Park Record

Summit County Historian NaVee Vernon directed and wrote Bravest of the Brave, a historical reenactment of the story of a Shoshone brave who lived on the Coalville Ledge. (Aaron Osowski/The Park Record)

This weekend, the North Summit School District, whose teams are the Braves, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. In paying respect to the Native American culture historically present in the area, the Summit County Historical Society has been performing a reenactment of the story of a Shoshoni brave who lived on the Coalville Ledge.

The reenactment, titled ‘Bravest of the Brave,’ is written and directed by NaVee Vernon, Summit County Historian. Taking place right at the foot of the Coalville Ledge, the production features two teepees, multiple actors dressed in Shoshoni garb and a Shoshoni Chief giving smoke signals at the top of the ledge.

Vernon says she has wanted to put on a production like this for quite some time.

"I’ve wanted to do it ever since I started reading the Indian history of the whole county. We hadn’t really studied and learned that they were here, and there was so much [history]," Vernon said. "Then we found the petroglyphs on the ledge, which really reinstated that they were here."

The presentation began with Russell Judd, a member of the Historical Society, acting as George Beard, an Englishman born in 1854 who immigrated with his family to Coalville in 1868. Beard relates the story of seeing a tribe of Shoshones coming up the narrows of Chalk Creek while searching for his cows in Sage Hollow. The Shoshones had recently returned from the plains, where they were fighting the Sioux tribe.

Judd started by communicating the significance of the Coalville Ledge.

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"This is kind of a sacred spot. In fact, right back here on these cliffs, and to my right and to my left, is Native American rock art," Judd said, adding that they are believed to be 800 years old.

As a child, Beard was inspired by the petroglyphs on the cliffs and began to create paintings of his own, some of which can be seen in the auditorium of the North Summit High School. The story then shifted to the account of a Shoshoni brave who lived on the Coalville Ledge.

"Mounted on a majestic black-and-white stallion, the 24-year-old Shoshoni brave rode gracefully down the sun-filled Chalk Creek Canyon," the narrator said. "Respected Chief Washakie had sent this brave to this unknown territory to scout for the Shoshoni’s hostile enemy, Chief Black Hawk’s tribe, the Utes."

Later, a brave could be seen high up on the ledge scribbling sacred writings in the rock others were sending signals with mirrors and yet another, at the top of the ledge, was sending smoke signals and letting forth a fierce war cry.

Near the end, Beard meets with the Shoshoni brave, who offers him a peace pipe. To symbolize the pledge of peace on all sides and in every direction, the two exhale the smoke to the four cardinal points and to the sky and ground.

Vernon is fascinated with the history behind the Coalville Ledge as well as the Native American history in the area in which she grew up.

"The more I climb [the Ledge], the more I find. I hate to almost expose it, but I want people to take care of it," Vernon said. "I also want people to respect the Native Americans. I’m really proud of [the history]. I love the people and I love where I live."

Speaking to the students of North Summit High School, Judd said that they, like the Shoshoni brave in the story, look out upon "the beautiful canyons, fields and rivers of our wonderful country."

Judd finished by saying, "And, like him, you have the responsibility of preserving and protecting this sacred land and the good people who make it their home."