DENVER (CBS4)– The board that will look at names of public spaces and geographic features in Colorado was named. The 12 members of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board are a mix of legislators, historians, community members, and a representative from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.
“Every name is an invitation to curiosity,” said Patty Limerick, the Faculty Director and Board Chair for the Center of the American West at CU Boulder. “The fact that people (in Colorado) do care so much about place and their sense of self, their identity, their sense of wellbeing. A high concentration of people who know who they are and where they are because of the place.”
Limerick started studying names of places more than 30 years ago. She was instrumental in getting a dormitory renamed from an army officer who played a role in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre into Cheyenne Arapaho Hall.
“With full deliberation, refusing simplicity, you have to say what happened at sand creek was so terrible, that if it seems like we have honored someone from that place we’ve made a bad move,” Limerick said.
She’s hoping her experience with the Center of the American West can help guide the board make decisions. Likely, many will revolve around the Sand Creek Massacre.
“If there is a place named for a person who had what human beings have which is complications. Some significant achievements and significant reasons to cringe, to weigh that. There are inspirational tails, and there are cautionary tales and names attached places can add force to an inspirational tale and a cautionary tale,” Limerick said.
The council will receive public input on what names or places need to be reviewed, but any final determinations will be made by the Governor after recommendations from the board.
“The names mean something and we navigate by them. So, the names matter and they matter. And as soon as you say who gave it that name, then you’re asking questions about people in the past,” Limerick said. “It’s hard to think of somebody who’s not got complexities from different eras of history.”