DSST college nixes namesake William Byers, Denver newspaper founder who defended Sand Creek Massacre

The Denver-centered DSST charter school community is shifting the identify of one more of its colleges in a transfer that distances the educational facilities from a prominent, prolonged-deceased Denverite who held racist views.

DSST: Byers Middle and Superior educational facilities will no longer bear the name of William Byers, founder of the now-closed Rocky Mountain Information and a defender of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, in which U.S. troopers attacked a tranquil camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho people on Colorado’s Eastern Plains. The schools will now be called DSST: Cedar Middle and Significant educational institutions.

The Cedar title honors the cedar tree, which is indigenous to Colorado and performed “a very important function in many facets of indigenous existence,” in accordance to a press launch from DSST. The school is also found at the intersection of South Pearl Street and East Cedar Avenue.

“From cradleboards for carrying infants to its resilience in the encounter of drought and harsh winds, Cedar embodies the spirit of resilience and holistic well-staying that we hope to imbue in our college students,” the press launch reported. 

DSST mentioned the identify change was designed after “extensive local community engagement.” 

“Our college motto is ‘growing alongside one another,’” Faculty Director Elin Curry reported in the push launch. “The transform of our college title through a community-pushed system has been just that.” 

The press launch doesn’t point out Byers, the school’s prior namesake. In the course of 1864, Byers’ newspaper ran posts vilifying Native Us citizens and inspired readers to be a part of militias to combat them, according to the Denver General public Library.

After U.S. troopers killed more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people in what became recognized as the Sand Creek Massacre, the Rocky Mountain Information celebrated their fatalities and claimed soldiers “should not be blamed for killing gals and little ones.”

Denver General public Educational facilities opened the Byers faculty campus in 1921 on land after owned by the Byers loved ones. The university was a junior superior for many years and afterwards a momentary residence for Denver University of the Arts. The creating sat vacant for much more than a ten years in advance of DSST reopened it in 2014 right after a $19 million renovation funded by a taxpayer-accredited bond.

In 2021, the Denver General public Library renamed a branch that had been named for Byers. The new title, John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah, Jr. Branch Library, honors an Indigenous activist.

This is the 2nd time DSST, which has 14 schools in Denver and two in Aurora, has modified a school name. In 2019, DSST: Stapleton became DSST: Montview. The center and high educational facilities had been initially named for the Stapleton neighborhood, which bore the identify of former Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. 

The community has considering the fact that been renamed Central Park. DSST: Montview is a reference to Montview Boulevard, which touches quite a few of the neighborhoods served by the university.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Community Universities. Make contact with Melanie at [email protected].

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