Was Kit Carson a hero or criminal?
August 5, 2008
CRESTONE ” Nearly 150 years after the scorched-earth relocation of Navajos from the Four Corners region, bitterness remains.
The latest flashpoint is over the name of a 14,165-foot peak in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Kit Carson, the mountain’s namesake, in 1863 led forces for the U.S. Army that rousted the Navajo from their hideouts in Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly and sent them on a long, difficult and deadly march to a reservation in New Mexico.
A proposal arising from the town of Crestone, at the base of Kit Carson, calls for the peak to be renamed “Mount Crestone,” reports Colorado Central Magazine.
The proponent, Keno Menechino, says that replacing the name Kit Carson would please local residents as they feel “he was a war criminal, not a war hero.
The native Americans, Buddhists, and Hindus in the area seem very united on this, and they represent a large group of the population.”
This argument about Carson has been waged before.
Some years ago, protestors vandalized a statue of Carson located in Taos, N.M., where Carson spent many years.
He has been the subject of dozens of books, many flattering but others disparaging.
A mountain man who traveled the Rocky Mountains broadly from Jackson Hole to New Mexico, Carson was small in stature but large in his legacy.
From a chance meeting with the explorer John Charles Fremont, he was plucked from the ranks of obscurity for special adulation by the masses, eager for dime-novel-fabricated accounts of frontier derring-do.
Simplistic accounts, however, did not do his life justice.
He was brave, smart in his rough-hewn way, and like most mountain men, well integrated into the cultures of the native inhabitants of the region.
He had a wife in one of the native tribes he encountered, and later he was married to a woman form a prominent Hispanic family in Taos.
By the 1860s, the days of fur-trapping era long since passed, Carson had been recruited to work for the U.S. Army.
The Navajos had been terrorizing settlers, and he was charged with ending the attacks ” and told by a superior to round up the Navajos and escort them to Bosque Redondo, in Southeast New Mexico.
This he did, and it was not a nice affair. Many Navajo, who call themselves the Dine, died en route and on the reservation.
Colorado Central publisher Ed Quillen, who has studied Kit Carson’s story in depth, has found evidence that Navajos were brutalized by the U.S. Army under Carson’s watch, but sees no need for changing the mountain’s name.
“We tend to prefer a ‘warts and all’ view of our area’s history, of which Kit Carson is certainly a part,” he writes.
Furthermore, he notes that the names of warriors are on many mountains, including a 14,000-foot peak called Shavano that overlooks Salida. Shavano, he notes, was the war chief of the Tabeguache band of Utes.
There’s also the issue of geographical clutter and confusion.
Proposed as a replacement in the application to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names is Mount Crestone.
Farther down the same ridge are two other 14,000-foot peaks of the same inspiration: Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.
Aspen plans to raise the energy bar for buildings
ASPEN ” Aspen city officials plan to stiffen energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings.
The new code aims to move Aspen along toward meeting the “2030 Challenge,” a national program that aims to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent in the next 22 years.
Stephen Kanipe, the city’s chief building official, said the green-building and renewable-energy components are the future of the construction industry, reports the Aspen Daily News.
“We’re just a few years ahead of the curve,” he told elected officials at a recent meeting.
While building groups estimate that green-building measures such as those proposed by Aspen increase costs 2 to 5 percent, Kanipe argues that long-term savings warrant the up-front costs.
Bottom-dollar value engineering “does not make sense anymore,” Kanipe said. “You can’t afford to heat the building.”
In other words, building better is more economical, because of increasing energy costs.
Similar to an existing program for homes, the new regulations will allow energy-consuming outdoor features such as heated snowmelt sidewalks and heated pools.
However, if they include those energy sinks, the commercial projects must install on-site renewable energy features, such as photo-voltaic collectors, or pay an in-lieu fee for energy efficiency and renewable-energy projects elsewhere.
In addition, the city ” which also delivers electricity to about one-third of Aspen ” is also preparing to offer attractive credits for those owners who install solar panels.
Officials of Pitkin County are planning to adopt similar regulations for unincorporated areas.
The final draft of the regulations are expected to be completed by late September, reports the Daily News.