The People’s Crossing will be the new name of the area in west Boulder that has been called Settlers Park for years. Although there was no official vote, the Boulder City Council’s decision not to call a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday indicated that it was unanimously supported. Renaming Boulder has been discussed since Boulder’s Indigenous Peoples Day resolution was passed in 2016. Although the conversation has been slow-moving, both the community and council members believe it’s for good reason.
“We took the slow road on this renaming, but I think it was the right road,” Councilmember Aaron Brockett said. “We’ve ended up with a process and a name that our community can be proud of.” “It is such a pleasure and honor to finally be at this point and it’s been a thoughtful process”, Councilmember Mary Young added. Mayor Sam Weaver agreed, emphasizing how enriching the process has been.“The wisdom that they bring to the deliberations is something to behold,” Weaver said. “It’s caused me to think deeply about what leadership means and what community means.”.
Phillip Yates, Boulder Open Space, and Mountain Parks spokesperson, has indicated that the city has a significant history related to the area in which Settlers Park currently exists. “We recognize that our history for the location is primarily informed by Euro-American source material and does not include Indigenous perspectives,” Yates said. The Settlers Park area is generally thought to be the area where Arapaho Chief Niwot, or Left Hand, told “gold seekers” that they could not remain on Indigenous land as defined by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.
Historically, the area was called Red Rocks. Oak Thorne, the founder of Boulder’s Thorne Nature Experience, said he bought the land from a couple who wanted to build a development there. Thorne did so with the intention that the land could be preserved and used to connect Eben G. Fine and Red Rocks. In addition, Thorne said there was a brass plaque in the area that noted the first settlers in Boulder had camped there, so that’s how the name came to be. However, he was happy to hear the city was consulting with Indigenous people and considering renaming the park. “I highly approve of the name change to The People’s Crossing, especially if that is the clear wish of the tribal folks,” he wrote in an email.
On Tuesday, Yates explained to the council that the name “The People’s Crossing” has several meanings. That particular area has been a crossroads for Indigenous people who have lived in and traversed the Boulder area since “time immemorial.” Additionally, “The People” or “Our People” are English translations of how many Native American tribes refer to themselves in their native languages. “The usage of the term ‘the people were meant to be inclusive of all people who have traveled through and have lived in the Boulder area,” Yates said.
The city hopes to officially replace the signage and interpretive information in time for its 2021 Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in October. Until that work is complete, the city intends to install temporary signage informing people of the name change.
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