A gubernatorial-appointed group on Thursday will begin to discuss what geographic landmarks, if any, should be considered for name changes.
Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order on July 3, setting up the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board. The board was created in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, which included outrage from Native Americans and other people of color around names and statues of individuals with ties to genocide of Indigenous peoples in Colorado. In June, a statue of Kit Carson near Civic Center Park was removed by the city.
Carson's legacy included the helping push the Army’s “scorched-earth policy, burning crops and starving the semi-nomadic Navajos into submission," according to the 2006 book Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides. Carson's campaign against the Navajo, dubbed the “Long March,” resulted in the deaths of one-third of the Navajo nation and their exile to a reservation that Sides described as a “concentration camp.”
The town of Kit Carson, in Kiowa County; Kit Carson County, the Kit Carson Correctional Facility and the Fort Carson Army base are among the places in Colorado named for the 19th century soldier and frontiersman.
Other names that could be considered: Gov. John Evans, who was Colorado territorial governor when the Sand Creek Massacre took place, and who resigned at the request of President Andrew Johnson when the atrocities came to light.
The board, which will meet virtually at 1 p.m. Thursday, will discuss protocols, receive a briefing from the federal Geological Naming Board, which has final approval authority for places names for federal maps and related sites, and an overview on outstanding naming requests in Colorado.
Polis named the board's members on July 31.
- State Rep. Perry Will of New Castle, Republican;
- State Rep. Adrienne Benavidez of Adams County, a Democrat and sponsor of HB 20-1031, which eliminated Columbus Day and replaced it with Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, to be celebrated on the first Monday in October. That law went into effect Monday.
- State Rep. Tony Exum, Sr. of Colorado Springs, Colorado, a Democrat;
- Boulder City Councilwoman Junie Joseph;
- Grand County Commissioneer Richard Cimino of Fraser;
- Kathryn Redhorse of Denver, Colorado, executive director of the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs;
- History Colorado Executive Director William Wei;
- Patricia Limerick the Center of the American West at CU-Boulder;
- Karen Ann Berry of Wheat Ridge, who is with the Colorado Geological Survey;
Luis Benitez of Littleton, Colorado, vice president of government affairs and global impact for VF Corporation, representing the tourism industry; and
- two members with a background in race or ethnic studies: Charleszine “Terry” Nelson, special collection and community resource manager for the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, and Nicki Gonzales, vice provost for diversity and inclusion at Regis University.