By Danielle Chavira

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Public Library celebrated one of its locations getting a new name on Saturday. The name honors the legacy of a Native American leader.

The former Byers Branch Library is now called the John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library.

(credit: CBS)

A renaming committee formed in 2021 after they learned Byers was a supported of the Sand Creek Massacre in which hundreds of Native Americans were slaughtered in southeastern Colorado by volunteer soldiers.

The namesake of the library spent his life advocating for Native voices and education.

(credit: CBS)

“Really his focus was always to advance and elevate opportunities for native community. That’s really what he dedicated his entire life to,” said Erika R. Martinez, spokeswoman for the Denver Public Library. “I think there’s now an opportunity to understand what we can do and how we can celebrate Mr. Emhoolah’s legacy.”

The community voted on the name change. The library says the process was a first-of-its-kind for the city and the library.

Danielle Chavira