Reader: The Sweetwaters are the hardest-working people I know

"Turf Wars," Patricia Calhoun, August 8

Northern Exposure

I thought the new names for Colorado spin-offs were funny. It's important to be informed, but also to enjoy a laugh or two. Westword is meant to go beyond what the lame-ass Denver Post does. Nice job. It's not only a statewide issue, but also a national one. Northern Colorado does smell like poo — but there are the good, the bad and the ugly all over.
Tommy Romero

"About Face," Simon Moya-Smith, August 8

Culture Vultures

I read the article about Sweetwater family, and it was both vicious and racist. Do you do articles on how questionable it is for Irish people to sponsor St. Patrick's Day celebrations? Or how Europeans should not portray early Europeans at Medieval Times by eating turkey legs without silverware and chasing ill-clad wenches?

Mrs. Sweetwater, it is an honor to hear about how your family faces down the public off-reservation by dancing and sharing your culture with young children. I say "faces down" because of the unnamed Indian intellectual quoted in the article, who should have his head examined (and so should the author of the article for publishing such trash). I hope that when I visit the Colorado State Fair next week, I can visit you near Cañon City and thank you personally. You are certainly doing God's work.
Alice I. Hallam

Speaking as a family member of the Sweetwaters, I am truly saddened by the way this article is portraying them. They're the hardest-working people I know. Besides being a mother and grandmother, my aunt has worked hard all her life, and she enjoys doing what she loves, and that is dancing and sharing her culture with everyone (no matter if they are white, black, purple or blue).

I recall growing up with my brother and participating in different events around Colorado Springs with my family. We did not do it because it was a job, but because the idea behind the group was to spread awareness of our culture to our community — from Territory Days in Manitou Springs to the Olympic ice-skating performance, in the presence of President Bill Clinton and featured on TV. It was never about the fame; if anything, the biggest life lesson they taught us was, "Be proud of who you are! Love everyone! And finish your education!" And that is what they teach to all the viewers.

This article isn't about what they are "doing wrong" in the eyes of one person because of some "face painting" — to me, it is stupid and poor journalism. I suggest before you judge them, keep in mind they are working for tips, not for minimum wage or even getting paid hourly. They do this because this is what they love, and it's their passion.
L. Billings
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Editor's note: For more comments on "About Face," go to the online version of the story at

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