Honoring Silver Valley's rich past
Members of the Wallace Chamber of Commerce in Wallace, Idaho have taken great pride in the fact that the city and surrounding Silver Valley once came under the protection of Buffalo Soldiers.
On June 17, the chamber and surrounding community celebrated the rich heritage of Buffalo Soldiers in Wallace with a monument dedication. The chamber, in conjunction with the Idaho Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, placed sign monuments at the city’s visitor center to honor the contributions of Buffalo Soldiers.
Innovia presented the chamber with a $1,500 grant to cover transportation costs to bring participants to the gathering in Wallace from Missoula, Montana, which also hosted a Buffalo Soldiers commemorative event in June.
“It’s important to recognize those who put their lives on the line during the mining wars and the great wildfire,” Wallace Chamber of Commerce President Brenda Johnson said.
Following the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War, in 1866, Congress created six all African American peacetime regiments who eventually became known as Buffalo Soldiers. Their main duty was to support the nation’s westward expansion by protecting settlers, building roads and other infrastructure, and guarding the U.S. mail.
During the 1890s, Buffalo Soldiers were called on to enforce martial law in the Silver Valley and again in 1910 to help fight the ‘Big Burn’ wildfire.
In acknowledging its past connection with the Buffalo Soldiers, the Wallace Chamber of Commerce and the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, California have forged a sister-chamber relationship.
Wallace has been in the planning stages for June’s event since 2016 when acclaimed Buffalo Soldier historian John Langellier gave the keynote address at Wallace’s Fall for History Festival. In 2018, several city organizers helped establish Buffalo Soldiers exhibits in museums and hosted a soldier’s re-enactment in 2019.
The June 17 dedication was the ideal culmination of several years of preparation to pay tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers.