Boulder History Museum presents Chief Niwot Legend & Legacy

Boulder History Museum presents Chief Niwot Legend & Legacy, an exhibition on view through Sunday, February 10, 2013.

One of the most notable Indians of the plains, a man about whom legends were made. Niwot’s story is one of honor and deceit, hope and despair. When hoards of white men began migrating to the central plains in the mid-nineteenth century, they moved into the land that was home to the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians. In 1858, the Arapaho Chief Niwot (translated in English as Left Hand) astonished the early gold-seekers in Colorado by greeting them in their own language. He and his tribe hoped to make peace with the newcomers to allow the two cultures to share the same land and coexist peacefully. Niwot devoted his life to this struggle but his efforts ultimately failed. He was mortally wounded at the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. This exhibit is the first to reveal the story of Chief Niwot and the complexity his struggle to find peace during the most fateful years in the history of the Southern Arapaho Indians.

The Museum’s exhibit is part of a community wide program exploring Niwot’s life and legacy in our region of Colorado. One Action, One Boulder: Niwot’s Arrow, a yearlong series created by local nonprofits, is not only an effort to educate residents about the history and tragedy of Niwot, but also to generate ideas and tools to create a more responsible, peaceful and inclusive community for the future.

The Boulder History Museum has committed to providing the historical substance for this community-wide collaborative effort. While the name of Niwot is prominent in our community, most citizens are not aware of the facts of his life. Many have heard of ‘Niwot’s Curse,’ but what is the historical basis to that persistent myth?

Particularly challenging is the fact that there are no known photographs of Niwot himself. We are telling the story with a group of carefully researched documents, artifacts, photographs and interactive elements that chronicle the events and personalities that affected the Arapaho Chief. Our exhibit team is comprised of Arapaho tribal members, academics, historians, researchers and professional designers.

Boulder History Museum
Harbeck-Bergheim House
1206 Euclid Avenue