Boise History

Who We Are

The History Program within the Boise City Department of Arts & History plays a pivotal role in preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of Boise. Its primary purpose is to curate, document, and share the historical narrative of the city. Through meticulous research, archival work, and collaboration with local historians, the division strives to maintain an accurate record of Boise’s past.

Additionally, the division offers educational programs, walking tours, and community engagement initiatives that aim to connect residents with their city’s history. By providing these services, the History Program not only safeguards Boise’s cultural legacy, but also fosters a sense of pride and belonging among its diverse population.

Through exhibits, publications, and interactive events, the program bridges the past and the present, enriching the community’s understanding of its roots and contributing to Boise's vibrant cultural tapestry. 

A Brief History of Boise

The city of Boise sits at a unique crossroads. Established in 1863 along the Oregon Trail, the city exploded out of the high desert, and has witnessed a long history of dynamic change and community growth. While Boise was first built and settled by pioneers, miners, and entrepreneurs from around the world, this landscape has been home to humans from time immemorial. A broad and rich tapestry of cultural and ethnic identities have been represented throughout Boise’s past, and preserving this diverse history is crucial to creating a more welcoming and inclusive community into the future. 

Indigenous Peoples of the Boise Valley  

For thousands of years, indigenous people occupied the Boise Valley and Snake River Plain in southern Idaho. Bands of Northern Shoshone, Bannock, and Northern Paiute people lived in these areas, migrating with the seasons, and following food supplies and other resources across the region. The Boise Valley was an important gathering place, particularly for the Shoshone, who migrated there in the autumn for salmon spawning and made their winter encampments. On the east end of the valley near present-day Table Rock, Indigenous people made ritual use of the geothermal springs and buried their dead in the hills above the plain. Today, Eagle Rock Park (f. Castle Rock), is a central part of an annual gathering known as The Return of the Boise Valley People, where descendants of the original inhabitants of the valley meet to share stories, traditional foods, and honor their ancestors.  

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