CREATING LASTING RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE ORIGINAL PEOPLE OF THE BOISE VALLEY

This past Friday representatives from the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes picked up 46 kids bikes from our shop to bring back to the Duck Valley Reservation on the border of Nevada and Idaho.  Similar to our monthly Kids’ B.A.S.H, the Boise Bicycle Project donated these bikes to kids ages three through eleven. Different from a Kids’ B.A.S.H., where kids participate in a bike safety lesson and course at our shop, our goal is to teach a few interested people in the Duck Valley community the basics of bicycle safety, so that they can run their own bike safety courses for their kids and their community.

The story of BBP’s connection with the Duck Valley tribes begins with the story of my personal exploration process when I moved to Boise a year and half ago. In my efforts to learn about the region and its history, as well as its art, I came across a non-profit, the Kessler-Keener Foundation, that connects young people from the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes with writing mentors in Boise, who guide them through the play-writing process. Last summer I attended the culminating event of that process, a reading of the scripts of the fifteen high school participants, and was blown away by the depth of feeling and insight about friendship, freedom, and family that those plays manifested. More than one play caused me to cry and to laugh, and some both!

Flash forward to last December, Jimmy and I were discussing the communities BBP usually includes in our Holiday Kids Bike Giveaway and who we might be overlooking.  BBP primarily serves our local community, Ada County and sometimes Canyon County. We regularly connect with Boise’s refugee population during our Holiday Kids Bike Giveaway, donating bicycles to the kids of Boise’s new families to welcome them and empower them to explore this new home.  This year, however, we wanted to include children whose families may have called--and still call--Boise home, but no longer live here. It was at this point that I remembered the plays I had heard last summer and thought to reach out to the Kessler-Keener Foundation for a connection with the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Duck Valley.

Eventually I began talking with Roberta Hanchor, the Tribal Social Worker for the Newe-Numa Resource Program, who shared lots of excitement with me about improving bicycle access in the Duck Valley community.  She sent out a call to register kids for our HKBG. If you’ve volunteered at our HKBG in the past you are familiar with the energy of the event--anywhere from 300 to 500 kids coming down to our shop in one day to pick up their bicycles, often their first bicycle, and participate in a bike safety lesson.  We aim for as close to 100% attendance as possible, both so kids can receive the safety lesson, and share in the day’s fun energy. But, despite the interest Roberta heard expressed in her community, only three siblings were able to make it up for the day, and reasonably so, considering that the length of the drive is about three hours. We were glad to donate bicycles to those three kids, but made note to reach out to Roberta in the spring and come up with a better game plan.

And a few weeks ago we did! Roberta created a bicycle needs survey similar to our Holiday Kids Bike Giveaway registration and compiled the information of 46 three though eleven year-olds who had either never had bikes before or whose bikes were beyond repair.  Answers from kids on her survey were resoundingly “I have never had a bike” and “I want to ride with my family”. Eleven year-old Angelina wrote that she is excited to ride her bike outside with her family and exercise. The bike that eight year-old Uriah was previously riding was a “girl bike painted to be a boy bike”, and he was so stoked to pick up his new blue bike at the Tribal Social Services center this morning!

Typically, BBP’s only requirement for our bicycle giveaways is that kids come to our shop to pick up their bicycles.  This allows us to ensure proper bicycle fit and safety education. We made a conscious exception for the kids in the Duck Valley community with the goal in mind of sharing bicycle safety knowledge, as taught by the League of American Cyclists, with a few key community leaders there, to empower the community to host their own bike safety courses.   The community there recognizes the many benefits of bicycling--physical, financial, social, environmental--and is excited to work toward improving bicycle access, infrastructure, and education. Roberta has expressed that they are in the works of creating a plan to include bike paths in the future for their community.

I’m grateful for the community connections that I seem to be continually discovering in Boise and that led me to the kids in Duck Valley.  These connections are both what allow Boise Bicycle Project to thrive, and what we strive to foster and create for those who use our shop and participate in our programs.  I am looking forward to growing our relationship with the community in Duck Valley and seeing where that connection takes us!

With Pedal Power,

Christa