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Learn about the hopeful development about the Sand Creek Exhibit controversy at History Colorado, and about Fort Lyon's most recent incarnation. 

 
Barbara Sternberg's Book about Anne Evans

Welcome to Anne Evans News - March/April 2014
by Barbara Edwards Sternberg

Anne Evans News – With this Newsletter I hope to bring you in depth coverage of new historical discoveries along with current events that tie into Anne Evans' life and contributions, along with those of her family and other key figures in the early development of Denver, Colorado, and New Mexico. I will also keep you informed of events related to my historical biography about Anne Evans. 

 

Anne Evans BlogYou may now automatically receive my blog posts via RSS feed. My recent blog post discusses the latest information about 1) Fort Lyon as it begins its new mission, and 2) the Sand Creek exhibit at History Colorado. Click here to see my blog posts.

Fort Lyon Update

It is always refreshing to report a bit of good news. If you read my stories last year about Fort Lyon - from the time it was the jumping-off ground for Major Chivington's brutal massacre at Sand Creek, to its successive reincarnations as Veterans' Hospital and Colorado State prison - you will remember that it was scheduled in 2013 to embark on a completely new mission. It was to become a state-funded shelter, addiction treatment facility, and job-training center for the homeless.

There was considerable speculation as to whether any of the homeless (especially from Denver, site of Colorado's largest homeless population) would voluntarily get on a bus to go to a distant destination in one of the most rural areas of the state. Governor Hickenlooper was a major supporter of this new and positive role for Fort Lyon. The Denver Post, in a May 12 editorial headlined OK, GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER, FORT LYON IS YOURS NOW was frankly skeptical about the chances for the project. "If it fails, voters will know where to place the blame. And if it succeeds, we will be the first to credit the governor for his commitment to the idea."

The good news is that Fort Lyon is off to a good start in its new role. As of the end of November, 2013, 70 homeless people had taken up residence in the facility. They came from 15 counties, most from Denver, with 100 more on the waiting list. According to Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, it is expected that the program will be serving 200 people by the end of 2014, and 300 a year later. (Denver Post, 11/24/13).

One shocking statistic in the Post article is that the average age of the new residents is 49, which is the average life expectancy for someone who is homeless. The Fort Lyon program is attractive to this population, according to a representative of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. "They say 'I will come here or I will die this year.'"

No drugs or alcohol are allowed at Fort Lyon, and substance abuse treatment is an important part of it's program. Another big attraction is the guarantee of a housing voucher after a resident has satisfactorily completed a Fort Lyon program. Residents gain job experience while at Fort Lyon, and can take part in classes provided by Otero Junior College in "subjects such as basic computer skills."


Fort Lyon Today - Courtesy of http://www.coloradocoalition.org/what_we_do/what_we_do_housing/fortlyon.aspx

Anne Evans-A Pioneer in Colorado's Cultural History

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Barbara Sternberg and Evelyn Waldron discuss "Who was Anne Evans and why should we care?" at History Colorado on March 7, 2014.

Hopeful Development Re:
Sand Creek

I have written in previous Newsletters and Blogs about the unfortunate staging of an exhibit about the Sand Creek Massacre by History Colorado. It was one of a number of "Colorado Stories" - a variety of exhibits presented at the the new History Museum, which opened in 2012. The Sand Creek exhibit provoked extensive criticism, especially from the descendants of the tribes whose ancestors were the victims of the massacre. Their chief complaint was that they had not been adequately consulted on the content and wording of the exhibit, so their experience of this traumatic event was misrepresented. The exhibit was closed "for consultation with the tribes" and contributed nothing to resolving "the unhealed wound of Sand Creek."

I must confess that I had a sinking feeling that the exhibit would never be reopened. So it was with pleasant surprise and high hopes that I read a March 17 news release from History Colorado:

  • History Colorado announced today that it signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to formalize a collaborative government-to-government process that involve efforts to educate the public about the November 29, 1864 Sand Creek Massacre and the history and culture of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe people.

  • The MOA establishes a framework that guides how the State of Colorado, History Colorado, and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana, the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma work together to fulfill this educational mission through exhibits at History Colorado museums, events that commemorate or are related to the Sand Creek Massacre, and collections and artifacts related to Cheyenne and Arapaho people.

  • The MOA is the result of consultations with the three tribes who had raised concerns about an exhibit on the Sand Creek Massacre in the History Colorado Center. History Colorado closed the exhibit in June 2012and began consultations to develop an MOA to guide their current and future relations.

  • "During our discussions, History Colorado and the Tribes agreed that a beneficial first step, before discussing exhibits or programs, was to develop a framework for our shared vision and the guiding principles in how we work together, now and in the future," said Ed Nichols, President and CEO of History Colorado and State Historic Preservation Officer.

  • "The history of the Sand Creek Massacre is one of profound local and national importance for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and all of us as a society," Nichols said. "We have worked with the Cheyenne and Arapaho people for many years and highly value our relationship. The MOA is a reflection of mutual government-to-government respect and a commitment to work together to share the history and culture of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people with the public for generations to come."

  • The news release included an announcement that "Nichols was appointed to serve on the State of Colorado's Sand Creek Commemoration Commission, created today by Executive Order, which will coordinate statewide activities to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre."

The news release concluded with a note that consultation about exhibits and programs would begin "on Tuesday, March 18, at the History Colorado Center" and would include representatives from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs and National Park Service in addition to National Park Service and the Tribes.

I have to say that I would feel more confident about the outcome of this latest attempt to heal the Sand Creek wound, if the announcement about the MOA would have been less one-sided, if it had included some statement from the tribal representatives themselves. But, ever the optimist, I shall follow the course of implementing this new MOA with great interest. I look forward to a new and more honest exhibit at the History Colorado about the tragic betrayal that was the Sand Creek Massacre.

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