So long Chivington
By Trevor Hughes The Daily Times-Call
Chivington Drive will bear that name no more.
In a surprise move Tuesday night, city leaders decided to remove
from a Longmont street to recognize the widely condemned role Civil
Col. John Chivington played in the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.
Native Americans said having a street named for Chivington was both
offensive and tantamount to endorsing his actions. About 100 people
the city council chambers to show their support for changing the
“How about Ted Bundy or Hitler Avenue?” asked Tony Belthem of
Winds Council, who drummed in the city hall lobby before the
Longmont be the first city in Colorado to hold Chivington and his
responsible for war crimes. It’s not Chivington that I hate.
Chivington did. Chivington’s men, I don’t hate. It’s what they
Chivington is both revered for his role during the Civil War — as
of Glorieta Pass who stopped a major Confederate advance from Texas
New Mexico — and reviled for his role in the Sand Creek Massacre.
latter, Chivington led a 700-man volunteer column against
encamped Arapaho and Cheyenne.
According to the National Park Service, which is trying to
memorial site at the site northeast of La Junta, 150 people, mainly
children and the elderly, were killed in the attack on Nov. 29,
50 soldiers also were killed.
The council voted 6-1 to change the name, with Councilman Marty
opposed. Council members had been slated only to discuss wording for
explanatory plaque to be installed at the entrance to Chivington
Block had brokered a compromise deal between the street’s
American Indian community and the Longmont Citizens for Justice and
Democracy, and said he thought that was a more appropriate solution.
But the majority of council members said they were persuaded by the
show of public support for changing the name.
“Having sat through this same discussion and failed to achieve
make a change on Chivington in the mid 80s, then again in 91 and
time for healing,” said Councilman Tom McCoy. “I would move that
Chivington Drive be removed and a different select name placed in
soon as possible.”
Members of the audience broke into loud applause and cheers
9:30 p.m. vote. Glenn Spagnuolo, an organizer with LCJD, said the
decision was welcome but surprising. This was the third effort to
the name since the neighborhood was developed in 1977.
“We were hoping but we weren’t expecting it,” said Spagnuolo
with Belthem and other American Indians after the vote. “Right now
I am so
proud of my city council.”
Spagnuolo and LCJD clashed bitterly with city leaders this summer
new Wal-Mart Supercenter store. Earlier in Tuesday’s hearing,
joined about 30 people in urging the council to either install a
interpretive plaque explaining Chivington’s role in Sand Creek or
the name altogether.
“So long as Chivington is recognized as a hero, this community
the idea that indigenous people are second-class citizens,”
“It is important that we do not fear our history, but instead
Chivington Drive resident Ginny Sue Hayden said she moved onto the
several years ago only because the house at 2347 Chivington Drive
sale. Hayden said she supported changing the name because the issue
driving a wedge between her neighbors.
“The residents of Chivington can hardly talk to each other
this matter anymore,” said Hayden during the hearing. “We’re
entire city hostage. I just wonder if it’s going to continue to be
… for sake of convenience for us not to have to change
Council members said they felt changing the name was the best way to
the issue and move on with other matters facing Longmont. They
said changing the name would complicate mail delivery for residents
street's 45 homes.
“The reason we didn’t take the easy way in the past and
time around was because we all felt that changing the name of the
would bring some pain and annoyance to the people who live on that
said Councilman Fred Wilson before the vote. “But as I listen to
discussion about monuments and artwork and all the rest … probably
causing a lot more with making this street a monument of itself.”
Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.