William N. Byers: Contributing to a Massacre


Who was Byers intended audience considering the Sand Massacre?

Thanks for reading and asking, Axel. The Rocky Mountain News was mainly published for and read by the settlers of Denver.

I applaud the name change of the public library branch in honor of Chief Little Raven and his descendants and all Native Americans who have suffered from the effects of brutal efforts at extermination.

Thanks for reading and responding, Ruth. Renaming buildings is a small but worthwhile step toward addressing the harm we have done.

As some commenters have already said it would be helpful to contextualize the name change for everyone and explain on site in a permanent installation. 1. Why and when the library was named Byers originally and 2. Why it was changed. It’s is not enough to remove the name preventing future generations from benefiting from contextual understanding of history and our contemporary perspectives. There must be a responsible and sensitive way to explain it all so we can continue to have conversations about difficult subjects.

Thank you for this thoughtful suggestion, Sally. I'm going to send it to my colleagues at the branch and in our communications department to see what we can do.

We should not pretend that the people of that time were ignorant. In fact, research into congressional hearings from 1872 demonstrates the opposite. Byers recruited staff members to participate in the massacre. He was NOT innocent of pervasive racism and invoking hostile sentiments against the owners of the land. One fact everyone fails to recognize , Indians legally owned the land and were simply defending it against a hoard of invaders. What would you have done if these intruders tried to take your land. Think about The Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is exactly what happened to Native people in Colorado.

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