Letter to the Kiowa County Independent Editor
This long overdue letter is to thank the people of Kiowa County for their long-standing support of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. It has been an honor for the two of us to have lived and worked in this incredible community for most of the last two decades. As we transition into retirement from our positions with the National Park Service, we are so gratified to see how much has been accomplished at the site as well as in town, and that the relationship between the park and the community remains strong and productive. It has been rewarding to participate in the recent Sand Creek Massacre speaker series hosted by the park and the Crow Luther Cultural Events Center and even more so to be watching the imminent completion of the Sand Creek Massacre NHS Visitor and Research Center and Kiowa County Senior Citizens Center. This project, envisioned and initiated by the Board of County Commissioners in 2007 and progressing ever since, exemplifies the partnership between the County and the National Park Service that has been so successful since even before the Sand Creek Massacre NHS was officially established.
Since the initial studies of the massacre site in 1998 to the dedication of the national historic site in 2007, through the park’s planning efforts to the 150th Commemoration of the Sand Creek Massacre in 2014, and on and on, the community has been supportive, encouraging and enthusiastic about the possibilities for the future. New employees and tribal representatives have all been welcomed and visitors to the site have expressed their appreciation for their positive experiences while in Kiowa County. While the Sand Creek Massacre is a controversial episode in our shared histories and the presence of a national historic site dedicated to commemorating it could have been a source of conflict between the community and the National Park Service, thanks to the far-sightedness of Kiowa County leaders and graciousness and generosity of Kiowa County residents, it never turned out that way. Instead, the county and the park service became and continue to be partners through mutual support, both financial and in general. We have had the pleasure to work closely with the Board of County Commissioners, the Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation, the Sheriff’s Office, the Office of Emergency Management, the USDA, local businesses and park neighbors and friends.
As we reflect on our last nearly 20 years with the Sand Creek Massacre NHS, we are grateful to have been a part of this wonderful community and consider it a model for what a park “gateway” community should be. We value the friends we have made more than we can express, and we are confident that the relationship between the park and the community will remain strong and successful well into the future. As we have mentioned to others, we both intend to remain involved with the Sand Creek Massacre Foundation, a non-profit organization that is being formed to help support the park and the research center. After all these years, no matter where we may land, we will always consider Kiowa County “home.” Thank you for 20 amazing years – we look forward to the years to come!
Alexa Roberts Karl Zimmermann
Superintendent (Retired) Operations Manager (retired)