Underground Railroad
After reading Patricia Calhoun's "Up From the Underground," in the May 21 issue, I wonder if anywhere in this city is safe--above ground or below. Thanks for the alert.

Mae Powers
via the Internet

"Up From the Underground" was a great article with the inclusion of some Colorado history. Actually, it was almost 120 years ago that radioactive carnotite was discovered along the Dolores River while our early pioneers were amassing in their search for gold. Massive flume projects were undertaken only to fail miserably when the gold flecks proved to be too fine and too few. Alas, fame and fortune were yet to be heralded from the area, and the towns of Nucla and Naturita were to be born after the first carnotite samples were sent off--first to Denver and then to France, to be prodded by Pierre Curie and his sister Marie. Thus the age of nuclear study had begun, and for almost fifty years, Colorado was the leading world supplier of radioactive materials. But by the 1930s, cheaper sources became available from the Belgian Congo, and Denver's radioactive element sales petered out.

How ironic that we found so many new ways to contaminate the area with even more lethal strains of garbage. And once the market for nerve gas and nuclear triggers dwindled away like the market for carnotite, our feline instincts were rejuvenated and we solved the problem by scratching a hole and burying our defecation. Unfortunately, simple solutions don't always work for complex problems. As long as we simply bury the past, we'll likely have to bury more dead as well.

Nowadays, Nucla and Naturita are quiet. The Dolores River still churns through the rubble of a bygone era, picking up radioactive materials, carrying them downstream to the Colorado River and eventually into every source of irrigation, water supply and recreational area that lies along the route from Colorado to Southern California. No one thinks about it anymore, though.

I'm glad Patricia Calhoun shared that column with us. Westword is a great weekly. Some may not have an appreciation for the honesty in its journalism, but that's their problem. I'm glad you do what you do, and I think most of the sane and thinking people of Colorado do, also.

Cal Anton
Torrance, CA

Thank you for writing about the Shattuck site, which is a stone's throw from the house I purchased in 1995. I came here from Long Island, where we had spent ten years closing down the nuclear plant of Shoreham. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to a meeting of the neighborhood to discuss the Shattuck matter. I was devastated in view of the fact that the real estate agent who assisted me in selecting my new home never mentioned the fact that this deadly plot was so close to me. I knew many years ago, of course, about the uranium problems after WWII. I learned a lot about this when I was doing my undergraduate work at State University of New York in the Seventies. In fact, I found out that the only state in the Union with no nuclear problems is Wyoming.

I attended several meetings and suggested that in view of the fact that the mayor and our councilman, Mr. Himmelman, were both very much in favor of clearing the site as had been allowed for by the Superfund designation, we somehow should hire a good lawyer, create an escrow account and withhold our taxes so that something could be discussed. Nothing ever came of this. Most people were not willing to do anything, it seemed. I wonder whether we would have any power in August at the ballot box? What do we do next? Why has the Superfund not come through for us? Has it dried up?

I have encountered so much of this failure to take responsibility that I sometimes feel I am a failure. But I can never give up, and if there is something we can do, I feel we should make the effort.

Heather Muir Stanley

The Battle Over Sand Creek
Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "Battle Cry" on the Sand Creek Massacre, in the May 28 issue, it's interesting how Duane Smith justifies the horrific actions that took place in 1864. It's easy to see why today Colorado is known as "The Hate State"--still.

People like Duane Smith, Tom Noel and Mike Koury keep the hate-state legacy alive.

I am ashamed.
P.J. Methgarb

Why debate if Sand Creek was a massacre? Two congressional committees and one Army panel investigated the incident at Sand Creek right after it happened and concluded that it was. Killing women and children, raping, tearing the unborn out of pregnant women and cutting off body parts as trophies does not represent just war, they ruled.

Though never proved, Westword stated as fact that four Arapahos murdered the Hungate family. Whites or Indians could have committed the murders. Isn't it suspect that the bodies were hauled thirty miles to Denver to be put on circus-like display? Westword hinted that Chivington's actions brought peace to the plains, when in actuality, all hell broke loose. The Indians banded together and retaliated with great loss of life and money for the whites.

How did peaceful Indians of 1862 and 1863 become hostile in 1864? Blame unscrupulous Indian agents and the political aims of Byers, Chivington and Evans.Though promised in treaties, why was money never paid to the Cheyenne for Denver city land, and why don't the Cheyenne have a reservation in Colorado?

Why is this land, where the most tragic event in U.S. history occurred, being used to fatten cattle?

Patrick Kingston

Sand Creek lives. U.S. policy in Central America (where tinhorn dictators and their cadre are trained in subversion and terror at Fort Benning, Georgia) perpetuates genocidal policy fomented after civil war. Now Indians in Central America are "communists." Free Leonard Peltier.

Name withheld on request
via the Internet

I've always been interested in local history, so I found Harrison Fletcher's article to be quite interesting and informative. Just one question: Is Duane Smith the local head of the KKK in the Durango area?

Curt Cowles

In the April 2, 1998 Rocky Mountain News, Oneida J. Meranto essentially called AIM and Professor Glenn Morris clowns over the fracas at the President's Initiative on Race. I guess being head of Native American Studies at Metropolitan State College makes Meranto an expert. However, a recent book available at the Auraria Library called Colorado's Government: Structure, Politics, Administration and Policy has the city of Julesberg attacked and burned before the Sand Creek Massacre. The book I mention is a cooperative publishing enterprise supported by such as Metro State. Now, for a book like this to be published in cooperation with Metro State without the director of Native American Studies catching it is astounding.

It is essentially like letting a book pass that said that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and carried out the brutal Battan Death March because the Americans had fire-bombed and A-bombed Japanese cities! Since the state legislature is studying making laws to teach about environment in a balanced manner, perhaps they ought to take it before themselves to see that all subjects are taught in a balanced manner.

A joke, of course!
Donald L. Ferry

Poor old Colonel John Chivington. He's had more arrows shot at him since his death in 1894 than he ever had during his lifetime. If Harrison Fletcher would like to know what one of Chivington's bloodthirsty Colorado Volunteers was like, I would direct him to page 31 of his copy of Harman and Its People, which gives a brief bio of James Motley, at age seventeen a three-year veteran of skirmishes with Indians in the Denver area and a participant in the Indian Battle at Sand Creek, later known as the "Sand Creek Massacre." Motley, a devout Roman Catholic, a close friend of Colorado's first Catholic bishop, Joseph P. Machebeuf, and the first mayor of the town of Harman, was quite proud, and justly so, of his part in Sand Creek.

I'm sorry my great-grandfather, Joachim Binder, is no longer here; he could have told us what fun it was to deal with Plains Indians in the early 1860s: "Feed us and we won't burn your house down." None of us today can appreciate how it was to live out beyond the frontier in territory controlled by savages. The foray at Sand Creek was not a random bit of villainy perpetrated by Governor Evans; it was a response to repeated raids by roving bands of Indians on isolated farms and ranches all through eastern Colorado and even close in to Denver. It was precipitated by the senseless slaughter of the Hungate family at the Running Creek Ranch by Cheyennes on June 11, 1864. As I have pieced the situation together, Joachim Binder, his wife, Maria, and their three daughters left Julesburg shortly before the Sand Creek incident for the relative security of the notch between the Table Mountains and the foothills of the Rockies, then known as Golden City. (Had they stayed at Julesburg, they would have been wiped out in early February 1865, and I wouldn't be here to write this, which makes me, in a way, a legacy of Sand Creek.)

If anyone is interested in the truth about the so-called Sand Creek Massacre, I recommend W.R. Dunne's I Stand by Sand Creek. Mr. Dunne, a military historian, gives a balanced view of relations between settlers and the natives and tells us what a remarkable fellow John Chivington actually was. I would recommend further that we pay no attention to what David Halaas has to say about anything, particularly Colorado history.

So why don't we remember John Chivington as the Hero of Glorieta Pass? In 1862, then-Major Chivington saved the Colorado gold fields from Confederate forces at a critical time during the Civil War and ended the war in the West. John Chivington was a man who did his duty at Glorieta Pass and again at Sand Creek as God gave him the light to see that duty. For the past hundred years, he's been trying to get some rest at Fairmount Cemetery. Give the guy a chance.

Henry Johns

Editor's note: Henry Johns, whom Fletcher wrote about in his April 16 column, "There Goes the Neighborhood," is the author of Harman and Its People.

Prisoners of Race
Regarding T.R. Witcher's "Say It Loud," in the May 7 issue:
I am a black male currently incarcerated in Denver County on a drug charge. I'm an addict but quite functional, and I have been writing music for years now. While I don't have all the facts on the Gil Webb case, I can safely say there is no way to overplay race in America. One-third of us are currently locked up, and I plan to do something about this by suing the U.S. government, which has never been held to answer for the CIA's mass involvement in drug trafficking. NAFTA is another example of government policy where everyone involved should be indicted for either stupidity or drug trafficking, since it has only succeeded in increasing border drug traffic. Even on negligence the government is liable, and if millions like myself are doing time for drugs, then the government must be held responsible for its negligent border policy.

If nothing else, I would like to meet Anne Sulton, because she seems intelligent and unafraid to acknowledge the racism of today that most African-Americans seem to think ended years ago.

David Adebonojo

What do well-known blacks with names like Cochran, Gumbel and, last but not least, Sulton have in common? When the sun goes down, they tuck tail, jump in their luxury cars and run to their white neighborhoods, miles away from the people whose welfare they claim to be interested in.

Erwin Goetzfried

Steal Yourself
I am writing to thank you for Stuart Steers's "Chilly Reception," in the May 7 issue, about Colorado's new cable-theft law.

Westword has provided a valuable community service by educating its readers about the very serious economic and quality-of-service problems our customers suffer because of cable-television signal theft. The well-considered enhancements to Colorado state law about which Westword reported substantially increase the penalties for cable theft and enhance the ability of the cable industry to protect honest, paying customers by aggressively pursuing those who steal service.

In view of the severe penalties that can now be levied against those who steal cable service, we respectfully request that Westword reconsider its policy of accepting advertising from professional cable thieves. As a matter of ethics and for the protection of your readers, we request that Westword stop accepting advertising dollars from illegal businesses that promote the violation of law through the sale of illegal descrambling equipment.

Our previous letter that requested you stop accepting these ads to date has been ignored. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Jerome Kashinski, division counsel
TCI Central, Inc.

Editor's note: Hey, we'd like to request that TCI lower the rates it just raised this month. But you can't have everything.

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

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or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com

Missed a story? The entire editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html


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