News / USA

US University Renames Dorms to Honor Native American Chiefs

The University of Colorado campus in Boulder. (S. Schlender/VOA)The University of Colorado campus in Boulder. (S. Schlender/VOA)
x
The University of Colorado campus in Boulder. (S. Schlender/VOA)
The University of Colorado campus in Boulder. (S. Schlender/VOA)
Shelley Schlender
The University of Colorado is considering a plan to rename a couple of student dormitories in honor of two prominent Native American chiefs who once lived in the area.

It's part of a national trend, prompted by a new awareness and sensitivity to concerns among many Native Americans that some uses of tribal names, as in the cases of sports teams like the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Braves, can be insulting. 

The University of Colorado dorms would be named after Niwot and Hosa, two leaders of the Hinono'ei, also known as the Arapaho, in the 1800s.

At schools of higher learning, buildings are often named after people who helped the institution. On the CU-Boulder campus, the two dormitories in question currently honor lawmaker Charles Kittredge, whose efforts helped launch the university and at the Kittredge coffeehouse, students have no trouble saying his name.

“Everything’s been Kitt West," said one student. "Kitt Central.  Kittredge West.  Kittredge Central.”

"They’re good names," said another student. "They’re classics."

The proposed new names for the Kittredge dormitories are more challenging.

CU Linguistics Department chair Andrew Cowell, a world authority on the Arapaho language, has no trouble with the names.

“[Arapaho] is the native language, essentially, of the Boulder Valley and the area of the University of Colorado,” he said. “In Arapaho, the word Niwot simply means the left hand, or someone who is left-handed. Ho is an old traditional word for God in Arapaho, the Creator. It’s also a word for Crow or Raven. And then Hosa is a crow child or a raven child, in other words, a Little Raven.”
The University of Colorado plans to name two of its dormitories after Native American chiefs Hosa (left) and Niwot of the Arapaho.The University of Colorado plans to name two of its dormitories after Native American chiefs Hosa (left) and Niwot of the Arapaho.
More than 10,000 U.S. citizens trace their ancestry back to the tribe, but Cowell says fewer than 500 of them speak Arapaho today. CU professors are helping the Arapaho people with projects to revive their native language.  And Cowell hopes renaming the dorms Niwot and Hosa will promote appreciation for disappearing languages and the efforts to preserve them.  

Some students say that would be easier with the English translation of the names.

“I think it would make more sense to simplify it to English, seeing as the majority of students here are English students, and people wouldn’t pronounce it right anyway,” said one student.

But the school’s Housing and Dining Executive Director Kambiz Khalili says the appreciation would be deeper with indigenous names.

“A trend that most universities are using nowadays, like for example, Stanford, is to actually put the name in the native language, the Arapaho language,” Khalili said.

Khahili chose the names Niwot and Hosa because, in the tempestuous 1800s, these leaders sought non-violent ways for the Arapaho to live with the English-speaking settlers who were breaking treaties and forcing them from their ancestral lands.

"We did our research and we found these two individuals with a very good background, peaceful folks that were helpful to build a relationship with folks here in this Boulder Valley area," Khahili said. "And so we recommended those two names as the two individuals we thought could be inspiring to our students living in these halls."

One member of Khalili’s research group has a special reason to value authenticity; Ava Hamilton is an Arapaho tribal member.

“I like that it’s going to be called, the way we call our name," she said. "Our sacred and important language is to be spoken by everybody.  Because we all learned how to speak English.  We can say George Washington.”

Hamilton hopes the dorm name changes will also bring greater awareness of one of the few acknowledged atrocities within the U.S., the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, when about 700 Colorado Territory militia ambushed a small peaceful encampment of Native Americans, killing entire families, including a man who had worked hard for peaceChief Niwot.

“I thought it was very appropriate that the celebration and the renaming of the dorms should happen during the 150th year since Sand Creek Massacre,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton, Cowell and Khalili agree that it’s healthy to share all perspectives on American history - the good, the bad, and the little known.  As for CU students, over time, they'll likely get used to the new names.

“I think it is important because it is a part of our history and, like, the culture of Boulder,” said one student.

Some buildings at CU will continue to honor Kittredge, and the Arapaho names are expected to be in place this spring.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs