Life changing youth organization founded during the Great Depression

In an era of lost dreams and new-found worries, the Great Depression gave birth to one of the most inspirational stories about kids who dared to dream. While the Depression ravaged the faith of an entire planet, a severe drought in this part of the country brought further devastation to the area. The Great Depression and Dust Bowl worked together to snatch the hopes and dreams of the people in La Junta, Colorado. Anxiety was plentiful while dreams continued to dwindle. Eighty-five years ago, two twelve-year-old Boy Scouts, Bob Inman and Bill Sisson, rallied a group of their friends in the midst of the Depression, drought, and bitter chill of February 1933; this would become the first official Koshare meeting. Sixteen boys gathered in Inman's backyard to form a club forged in friendship and new hope. Their Scoutmaster, the young James Francis “Buck” Burshears, aided the boys on the weekends while he was home from college. It was Buck who inspired the boys to study Native American Lore while they continued to meet regularly in backyards, barns, chicken coops, and any space they could gather to study the life of the First Americans. Buck and the boys found sanctuary that fall in a newly constructed barn owned by the parents of fellow Boy Scout, Dave Hill. On one clear autumn night, the meeting was moved from the barn to a nearby corn field which had recently been harvested. A bonfire added warmth to the evening. The boys' activities transported them to a distant and simple past as they danced the way the Native Americans had a hundred years before. In the light of the fall moon and flickering fire, the beat of the drum and jingling of their ankle bells filled the autumn air; for a moment, the troubles of the world were forgotten. The romance and beauty of the dances filled their hearts with a renewed sense of hope. The simple pleasure of performing around the roaring campfire led the boys to appreciate their ties as friends. It was no extravagant affair, but their first dance set the stage for bigger things to come. In the years that followed, the group has become an inspiration not only to their friends and families but to people all over the world. The tale of the boys who danced their way to fame has been told and retold in newspapers, magazines, and movies. Publications such as This Week, Readers Digest, Time Magazine, National Geographic, and Boys Life have featured articles on this group. The boys were featured in the Grantland Rice movie, One Hundred Unusual Boys; the Universal International Movie, High Colorado; the award winning PBS documentary, Koshare; and in numerous television and radio programs throughout the world. Through their efforts, they created a noteworthy museum collection that several books, travel magazines, and foreign brochures have declared as one of the most unique places to visit in America. Who could believe an organization like the Koshares could begin in the depths of our country's most difficult times and from the dreams of a college-aged Scoutmaster and a group of young Boy Scouts? In the eighty-five years since their first official meeting, the organization would have a tremendous impact on Southeast Colorado and to the lives of the more than two thousand boys and girls who have been a part of the organization.