OGDEN — After coming under fire earlier this year for a reputed failure to honor different perspectives, an effort to give an honorary name to a portion of 2nd Street is again up for discussion in Ogden City.
And thanks to some additional thought that was spurred by a tough conversation with the Ogden City Council, the petitioner says her modified proposal better portrays the history of the area she was trying to capture in the first place.
During the latter part of 2020, Anna Keogh, a local historian who lives in the northwest section of Ogden in a nearly 100-year-old home that is surrounded by one of Weber County’s oldest farms, petitioned Ogden City to name a portion of 2nd Street “Bingham Fort Lane.”
In the mid-1800s, the entire area near 2nd Street west of Wall Avenue served as a fort for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fort was a gathering spot for about 600 early settlers and was the largest fort in the Weber County area. Officially known as Bingham Fort, several of the structures and homes in the neighborhood were built by early LDS Church settlers and still stand today. According to Weber County property records, there are nearly 20 homes and other structures still standing in the area that were built prior to 1900.
Keogh and others who currently live in the neighborhood have been fighting against encroaching development and attempting to preserve the area’s history. The street naming proposal is part of that effort.
But the area in question was home to more than just the LDS pioneers. Native American tribes, most notably Northwestern Shoshone, inhabited the area first and also shared the ground with the earliest white settlers. Consequently, Council member Angela Choberka sent a letter to Ogden’s Diversity Commission, seeking the board’s guidance on the issue.
After reviewing the proposal, the Diversity Commission, which was formed in late 2016 and aims to give a municipal voice to groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in Ogden, voted 9-1 to recommend that the council vote against the honorary naming.
During a subsequent council work session, all parties involved aired out the issue. The consensus among most members of the council was to follow the advice of the city’s Diversity Commission, which essentially recommended Keogh work with the Native American community to come up with a street name that better represented both cultures that were historically important to the area.
After consulting with James Singer, co-founder of the Utah League of Native American Voters, and Darren Parry, a previous chairman of the Shoshone Nation, and others, Keogh is now proposing the portion of 2nd Street be christened “Bingham Fort-Chief Little Soldier Lane.”
“We’re really excited with the things that have happened since the Diversity Commission was involved,” Keogh said. “It actually deepened and broadened the history to bring the Indian perspective in. ... To me, it’s better (now).”
Keogh said that at the end of the day, her proposal was about promoting the history of the area, which under the previous iteration was incomplete. If the new proposal is ultimately approved by the council, new street signs would be erected in the area. Keogh says she hopes motorists driving around the area, which is near a busy section of Wall Avenue, will be inspired to do a little research.
“It’s just a quick way to give information and hopefully stimulate curiosity,” she said.
Though they haven’t voted on the proposal yet, members of the council appear to be receptive to the new iteration. Choberka said the process has brought an important topic into a more public light.
“I think (it) gave us all an opportunity to reflect on these types of conversation and think about the power dynamics that exist,” she said.
Council member Ben Nadolski said during the process that the council received some “partisan comments and feedback” with some “inflammatory and loaded terminology,” which he described as unfortunate. But he said that, for him, the idea was simply to consider all perspectives and be inclusive.
“It was never the intention ... to shut down the proposal,” Nadolski said. “Just to make sure what we’re considering and ultimately, hopefully, approving is something that’s considerate of everybody and inclusive. That’s who we want to be and I believe that’s who we are.”
Ogden Council Deputy Director Glenn Symes said before the measure is approved, it will require a public hearing, which will likely be scheduled soon.
“It will be a couple weeks to go through that,” he said. “But it sounds like the council is OK moving forward to that next step.”