Digging for the Truth

Letters to the Editor

Buried treasure: I would like to praise Joel Warner's "Digging Deep," in the January 26 issue. My grandparents came to McElmo Canyon in 1913, and my grandmother taught at a country school near the Castle Rock site. When I was a small child, she told me the "legend" of the horrific battle.

The article was very well done and reveals information that is truly cutting-edge. It certainly tied some historical pieces together. Thank you.



Ellis Miller

Past imperfect: Have Glenn Morris and Colorado's other famous non-Indian Indian agitator, Ward Churchill, filed their suits? After Joel Warner's "Digging Deep," I can just imagine the shitstorm down at Westword. Who knew that pre-Columbian Native Americans were (gasp!) human?

Everyone from the Iroquois to the Lakota to the pacific nations of the Pacific Northwest had slave economies. Powhattan built his empire at the end of a war club. The Lakota were hated and feared by everyone around them, for good reason. And everyone from the Mississipians to the Puebloans to virtually all the cultures of Meso-America practiced cannibalism to augment protein-poor diets. Those desperate to hide the human-ness of native peoples have permitted we plebes to know that the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice on an unimaginable scale. Still, a closely held secret is that all that fresh meat did not go to waste. Kept from public, er, consumption is the now-certain knowledge that the catalyst for the Conquistadores suddenly turning on their hosts was their witnessing a "celebration" in which thousands of sacrificial victims were butchered for luncheon. The official story that the savages from Inquisition-age Europe were overcome by their own greed continues anon.

Of course, it's one thing to tell the truth about pre-Columbian Meso-American cultures. Examination of the warts -- and diets -- of those falling under the protection of U.S. Indians is another simmering kettle of man corn.

JM Schell

A few bones to pick: Joel Warner's "Digging Deep" was a decent article, marred by an atrocious cover. Warner did a fair job presenting a complex story about native history at Mesa Verde, archaeologists and the media.

But the cover image (a skull) and headline ("Skull & Bones") missed his point completely. Who picks your cover art and spins your headlines? Did they actually read Warner's article? Your cover puts Westword squarely amid the lurid "media attention" (which Warner rightly condemns) "disturbingly reminiscent of...racism directed at Native Americans that archaeologists had been working hard to overcome." I presume that every Native American who sees the January 26 cover will be offended, and I know that every archaeologist will be annoyed.

A cover like that might sell copies, but Westword is free. Free to be a bit more thoughtful? Maybe not. Easier, by far, to go for a skull cliche and a limp joke ("secret society"). Your cover staff undermined a respectable piece of reportage.

Steve Lekson
University of Colorado at Boulder

A Shot in the Dark

The blame game: After reading Adam Cayton-Holland's "It Happened One Night," in the January 19 issue, I felt compelled to e-mail. What I truly want to know is, why? Why was this story written?

What we have is a story of "he said/he said." Of course, all three of our main players claim to be victims for no reason at all. It's sad. One man in jail, as he should be, and two guys permanently scarred and crippled for life. The culpability for all of this involves everyone: Market 41, Rich Velarde, Eric Johanson and Michael Rollie.

I don't believe that Eric and Rich and their friend were just innocently sitting there, sipping their drinks. I don't believe Rollie was just randomly starting a fight with them. I really don't believe Rich at all. Maybe he is a good guy, but the image he presents just doesn't seem honest. As I was reading, I kept waiting to see how Eric was taking his experience to others, in hopes of helping others avoid his fate. Of course, that would probably force him to admit some fault. Oh, wait, I forgot -- he's a saint. It's frustrating.

Now, I don't expect happy endings, but this served no purpose; it wasted pages in Westword. What we have is a random story that equates to some punks getting into it. Based on this article, I feel that Adam Cayton-Holland is either being duped or is naive.

Make what you will of this. I'll still love Westword. I'll still enjoy your writings and my life won't be any different. Unfortunately for the people involved in this story, their lives won't be any different, either. At least, not until they want to be honest with themselves.

Nate Balogh

Tattoo you: These tattooed drunks deserve no pity. Your paper sucks.

Nick Werle
Colorado Springs

You'll Go for Yoga

Pay as you go: I loved Tina Peterson's "Zen-trifying Denver," in the January 26 issue. Her writing is terrific.

Thanks, Tina, for making me chuckle; I needed it. By the way, since you mentioned the "payday loans providers" in your Lakewood paragraph, how about an article on who these providers are providing to? Like the yoga studios, they're popping up all over the Front Range. What's the inside scoop on these businesses? An inquiring Westword reader would like to know.

Bonnee Shafner

Gentle Zen: As a student of yoga who's studying to become a teacher, I find the emergence of Pilates and yoga studios a wonderful advancement in a pure pursuit of a more healthy and peaceful existence. Colorado is a wonderful choice for such a compassionate and holistic way of life, and I believe many a person will benefit from choosing a simpler way of life. With all the challenging situations our world faces that I'm aware of through the news, how can this be a bad thing?

As opposed to questioning the price and location, perhaps taking a class prior to writing this article would have been a more positive choice for Tina Peterson. Addictions in all forms -- from food to alcohol to drugs -- are at epidemic proportions in our society. Exercise and meditation are the two things that can release natural endorphins into the mind and body, therefore enhancing the spirit. Perhaps if you had approached this article with a Zen-like state of mind, you would have a much better understanding of how this philosophy is a calmer, gentler approach to life's daily challenges.

I, for one, embrace this way of life and so look forward to Deepak Chopra's vision coming to Colorado. As a matter of fact, I am also attending school to become an aesthetician to work in the community that envisions tranquility and embraces this way of life.

Elizabeth Kay Baenisch

Won't You Be Mine?

Brokeback comic: Regarding "Brokeback Stock Show," the Worst-Case Scenario in the January 19 issue:

Kenny Be's paean to the Coliseum was, as always, a multi-leveled affair. Not simply a heartfelt valentine to that cool (cold!) old building, it was timely satire, too. If I wanted anybody's take on Brokeback Mountain, it wouldn't be A.O. Scott's or my sister's, but the human Be-Man!

Tell him I still wear the Hip Tip T-shirt I bought from him in about '92. Don't see too many of them around!

Jimi Bernath

Risky Business

Live and learn: I strongly disagree with the mother of two boys who, in response to Luke Turf's January 19 "Road Rage," wrote last week to say that "if Jason LaFore and Eli Ashby had been using any other mode of transportation, whether walking/running, driving a car, riding a bus, light rail, etc., they'd probably still be here today."

Everything we do in life, once we climb out of bed in the morning, involves some level of risk. You can slip in the tub taking a shower. Walkers and runners get hit by cars. Buses, planes and light-rail trains crash. Women in high heels (as well as some men) fall down stairs. Everything we do in life involves some level of risk-taking. The real question, as I learned from my motorcycle safety class, is, "What level of acceptable risk are you willing to take?"

Is "hurling your body through space at 30, 40, 50 miles per hour, just inches from unforgiving asphalt" any less dangerous than hurling yourself through the sky in a metal airplane at 600 miles an hour just miles from an unforgiving earth?

Living life involves taking risks. It's what makes life exciting. It's what makes us alive.

David Westman

More reason to rage: Here are the requirements for obtaining a driver's license in Colorado: You need to be the required age; you need to bring proper identification to a branch office of the Department of Motor Vehicles; you need to pass a vision and hearing test; and you need to pass the required written and behind-the-wheel driving license tests. Trust me, this is difficult if an applicant does not read, write or understand English. If an applicant testing for his driver's license in Colorado does not speak English, the state and DMV allow that applicant to use an interpreter to translate the written test; the interpreter may also accompany the driver for the driving portion. As a result, an applicant may pass the test and still not be able to read road signs. This is a recipe for death and heartache; there is no excuse for road rage or inept laws that govern driving privileges in this state.

The DMV may refuse to issue a license to any applicant if, after investigation, the licensing authority determines that it will not be safe to grant such a person the privilege of driving a motor vehicle on the public highways. Reading and understanding English should be the prerequisite for driving a vehicle at 70 to 75 mph in this state. The governor and the DMV are responsible for some road rage in Colorado.

Ted Moore

Editor's note: On January 25, 83-year-old William Groseclose pleaded guilty in connection with the death of twenty-year-old Eli Ashby. The traffic violations Groseclose had been charged with -- failure to yield right of way, driving with an expired license (which he renewed shortly after the accident) and careless driving resulting in death -- were the first that the former WWII pilot had ever been cited for. His family told the judge that he didn't deserve jail time, and the Ashbys agreed but said they wanted Groseclose to give up his license. (Legislation will be introduced in the Colorado Senate this session that would require people convicted of careless driving resulting in death to surrender their licenses for a year.) The judge agreed, sentencing Groseclose to forty hours of community service and a suspended jail sentence with two years of probation, with the stipulation that he not be allowed to drive during that period.


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