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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora