This morning I wrote the following letter to the Colorado State Education Committee in regard to SB21-116, “Prohibit American Indian Mascots,” concerning the prohibition of American Indian mascots in Colorado:
Good morning! I am writing at the request of my friend [name redacted], who is a native of Lamar and a fellow member of The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in Broomfield, Colo. As a Christian minister and a fourth-generation Coloradan, I believe revisiting and re-envisioning the names of particular landmarks and school mascots is an important step in coming to grips with and acknowledging our full history as a state.
This painful but essential process makes the continued official use of “Indian” school mascots and their corresponding images, in particular Lamar’s “Savages,” both unacceptable and untenable — unacceptable for their derogatory reference toward a group of people made in the image of God, and untenable because of their forcible imposition, by schools that have chosen and kept those designations, on media and fellow schools and districts with which they compete.
Please consider the following quotation during your deliberations for its reminder of our human tendency to project onto “Others” the names and traits that we hate, ignore and deny in ourselves:
“When the Indians found there was no hope for them they went for the Creek and got under the banks and some…got their bows and a few rifles and defended themselves as well as they could. The massacre lasted six or eight hours, and a good many Indians escaped. I tell you that it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized…Some [Indians] tried to escape on the Prairie, but most of them were run down by horsemen. I saw two Indians hold one of anothers [sic] hands, chased until they were exhausted, when they kneeled down, and clasped each other around the neck and both were shot together. They were all scalped, and as high as half a dozen taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated. You would think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate human beings as they did…” (from Capt. Silas Soule’s Dec. 14, 1864, letter to his friend Major Edward “Ned” Wynkoop)
Soule’s letter describes in detail the massacre committed along Sand Creek by men of the 3rd and 1st Colorado Cavalry of more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people, mostly elders, women and children. Ironically, the massacre took place on Nov. 29, 1864, about 40 miles from present-day Lamar, Colo.
I urge your committee to unanimously pass and support this important bill, SB21-116, in its entirety. Thank you.