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.
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.
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.
University of Colorado at Boulder
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.