“Damn any man in sympathy with the Indians!”
The late local Archaeologist, Richard Carrillo standing next to “Damn Any Man” interpretive panel at Bent’s New Fort site dedication. October 19, 2013.
Future public-private collaborations, like the Bent’s New Fort [BNF] project hand-in-hand with the Semmens family, (who retain all rights to their land), was stymied by unsubstantiated protests that a National Heritage Area [NHA] was a mega-land-grab by the Department of the Interior as a front for the Dept. of Defense. No, really you can’t make this stuff up. The false narratives were fostered by the promotion of fear through misrepresentations. The defeat of potentials for our exceptional Southeast Colorado will be long-lasting. The loser in the campaign against an NHA is us, our history, the preservation of deteriorating sites and our next generation’s understanding of this Wonderful country.
The “New” Fort site, established by William Wells Bent during his occupation of Bent’s (Old) Fort – about 1833 to 1849 – as a trading post cabin in the Big Timbers where Cheyennes, Arapahos, Comanche, Kiowa and Plains Apaches often wintered because of water, forage and game availability is now preserved commemorating its colorful history and the Semmens family ties to the land.
BNF site’s Brad Semmens, brick & rock mason extraordinaire of Lamar recently received the 2017 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation at the Colorado History Center in Denver. Brad has been working on the current phase of the Crow-Luther Cultural Center revitalisation project. You may also have seen him doing the masonry on the dugouts at the baseball fields.
The protection, preservation and interpretation of our great historical region through the tool of an NHA was thwarted by ignorance. The loss of this progress oriented project hits our collective Southeast Colorado citizens. Over the years our local businesses and service providers and their employees will lose the untold revenue from tourism. Public schools and communities will suffer the loss of tourism dollars and taxes heritage tourists pay on gas, food, cafes, and hotels. These are gaps in area income travellers pay for, not us. When these sites disappear we all lose.
Public-Private partnerships, fostered by National Heritage Areas save money, save taxes, increase tax revenue and provide a “win-win” for local economies, students, tourists and private property owners who retain all rights and privileges to their lands.
Look at the Crow-Luther and Jackson Pond projects.
The Semmens family had the foresight to partner with the National Park Service in studying and preserving the great story of the Bent family legacy. As a result their forebears are also being remembered in NPS historical panels provided for the site.
That’s smart use of resources available.
In memory of one who gave his all to this wonderful site, the preservation of Boggsville and the region, Archaeologist Richard Carrillo of La Junta who did the amazing work at the BNF site. He passed unexpectedly at his home in La Junta on September 21, 2014. He is missed.
I am not currently an employee of or spokesman for the National Park Service.
Travel Well, Jeff C. Campbell
Jeff C. Campbell, a veteran police officer / investigator, published author of articles, books, and a series of novels. He’s an independent historian focusing on the Southwest, the Civil War in the West and Colorado’s Territorial days...
To read Part I of Soldiers at Sand Creek, click here.
To read Part II of Soldiers at Sand Creek, click here.