Along the banks of the Jordan River there is a 252-acre preserve that protects ancient artifacts and lands of tribes that once inhabited the area. Within the preserve is a monument, designed as a natural sundial, that honors all of Utah’s Native American tribes.
During a land survey conducted in 1991, remnants of an ancient Native American village were found in the Draper, Utah area along the Jordan River. Stone tools, weapons, corn, animal bones, and the remains of two ancient dwellings were discovered in the area, some of which dated back to Archaic Period between 800 and 480 BC. The artifacts suggest those living in the 3,000-year-old village were corn farmers. Archeologists believe this is one of the earliest known locations of corn farming in the Great Basin.
In 2009, 252 acres were set aside to preserve and protect the wetland and wildlife in the area as well as conserve its cultural heritage. Jason Walker, chairman of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone, described said his ancestors roamed the area and described the land as sacred. The preserve was named Galena Soo’nkahni, which is Shoshone for “many dwellings.” It is protected by Utah Open Lands and managed by the Utah Department of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
To pay homage to the former inhabitants of the area, as well as all Native American tribes in Utah, the the state’s eight indigenous tribes and the Utah Division of Indian Affairs partnered to create a memorial was constructed in the preserve, which they dedicated in March 2015. Utah Transit Authority, who had planned to build a FrontRunner station on the preserve before it was protected in 2009, donated money for the monument to demonstrate their commitment to recognizing cultural landmarks. The memorial is a natural sundial, with 8 posts for each of the Utah tribes: Skull Valley Band of Goshute, Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Paiute Indian Tribe, and Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. Each post has information on a tribe and sits in the direction that best matches the tribe’s location in Utah.
The monument and preserve hold deep significance for many Native Americans today as it honors their ancestors and provides an opportunity for others to learn about Utah’s tribes. At the monument’s dedication, Shirley Silversmith, director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, said, “We don’t want them to be forgotten,” she said. “We have to have a way to remember that our ancestors lived here.”