Lost Highways: Dispatches From the Shadows of the Rocky Mountains has reached the end of the line...but just for this season. In September, History Colorado introduced a series of documentary podcasts created by writer Noel Black and producer Tyler Hill, who’d set out to rediscover their home state, telling stories that they couldn’t believe they hadn’t heard before. And the response to their tales has been so strong that Lost Highways was just renewed for a second season, thanks to continued support from the Sturm Family Foundation.
The first episodes covered everything from Boulder becoming the first city to allow same-sex marriages to the murder of Alan Berg. In the sixth and final podcast of the season, "Mascot, Mask Off," which premieres today, Black and Hill looked into the history of American Indian mascots. Back in October 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper created a commission to study American Indian representation in public schools, which came up with two recommendations. One was that communities eliminate American Indian mascots, particularly those that misrepresented American Indian people or tribes. But it was the secondary recommendation that ended up having a larger impact: Schools that didn’t eliminate their mascot were given the option to work with the tribes indigenous to their region and together create new mascots that were not only authentic and respectful, but opened the door for ongoing relationships and cultural exchanges between the tribes, communities and schools.
Strasburg High School chose that route. For decades, the school had called itself the “Home of the Indians,” but members of the Northern Arapaho tribe, which once roamed this area an hour east of Denver, didn’t appreciate the stereotypical depiction of the warrior the school used as its mascot. Working with tribal representatives, the school was able to come up with a solution, making subtle changes not just to the image, but to the school’s culture. In doing so, it followed the path taken by Arapahoe High School in Centennial decades before. In the early ’90s, that school worked with tribal reps to come up with an image for its Warrior mascot designed by Northern Arapaho artist Wilbur Antelope; one of the school’s jackets is part of History Colorado’s Zoom In: The Centennial State in 100 Objects exhibit.
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The new episode, as well as the previous five, can be accessed on historycolorado.org/lost-highways, as well as podcast distributors. The series' inaugural episode, "Six Gay Weddings and a Horse," has been nominated for a Colorado Podcast Award from House of Pod; voting in that contest continues here through 11:59 p.m. on November 29. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony December 3 at House of Pod, 2565 Curtis Street.