Southern Rockies: Crossroads of Cultures in Pueblo

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Most kids and teens long to sit back and relax on a hot summer day in a modern pool or air conditioned building, but not so with kids 13 years old and up who learned the history of Pueblo, the many

Most kids and teens long to sit back and relax on a hot summer day in a modern pool or air conditioned building, but not so with kids 13 years old and up who learned the history of Pueblo, the many cultures that are present which date back to the 18th century to modern time, and historical/archeological sites that are preserved up to this day. After learning the history, students were astonished at the crossroads of cultures in Pueblo and the history of El Pueblo.

 

Founded in 1842 on the Arkansas River, El Pueblo was an important cultural crossroads of the Southwest. Anglo, French, and African-American trappers and traders; Mexican settlers and their families; and Plains, Iroquois, Delaware, and Cherokee Indians immigrated and lived in Pueblo. Many of these cultures traded, farmed, and ranched during the trading post and their settlement. The houses were made out of adobe and the post and its living quarters were built around a secure interior plaza to ensure the safety of the immigrants.

 

In 1959, the Colorado Historical Society converted the old Pueblo Airport hangar into the original El Pueblo Museum. The theme of the museum is the Cultural Crossroads on the Arkansas, and it shows the extremely rich and diverse heritage that has made the region a crossroads of culture for more than three centuries. The new El Pueblo History Museum acts as an entrance to the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk Historic District and as an educational gathering place focused on Pueblo’s diverse history including the traditions (such as art, etc.), and what it is like day-today.

 

In the month of June, students from all over Colorado joined together in Southern Colorado — Pueblo to learn about the steel and coal industry, and including some labor problems.

 

While learning facts about the steel mill and coal industries, there was lots of discussion about how to preserve the different historical sites and get kids — specifically getting teens involved — in preserving them. In one six second video, there were future plans of producing more hands on activities so there would be more experience instead of lectures or presentations. Interactive activities would include Songs of Pueblo where musicians would play their original music and introduce feelings and emotion of the history of Pueblo. For example, Tom Munch, Linda Amman, Johnny Watson, and David Enke played instruments and sang for us (the audience) with lyrics and music written by Daniel Valdez.

 

“When I began this process of storytelling about the Pueblo area I was overwhelmed with the history. What I found could be days worth of music, so we settled on these pieces [music] to tell the story from early Native America/Spanish times through the flood of 1921 and a bit beyond. Each piece tells a story of the hard times, sad times and joyous times but always about how the stamina of the people of Pueblo has prevailed.”

 

Including more media and/or technology (iPads, tablets, etc.) had a possibility of attracting teens more, as well as advertising the museum or the events about the cultures in other places because most of us hadn’t heard anything about the historical monuments since we lived in different parts of Colorado. Events such as the Taste of the Southern Rockies (TOSTR — also known as Toaster!) where music, food, clothing, booths, shopping stalls would take place was also one possibility that we created.

 

At the end of each summit, all of the kids present the discussion/recommendations of how to preserve the sites in front of 11 city council members. In response to one of the questions, “Why do you think learning and visiting mining and industrial sites is important?”, three of the answers that was discussed and voted for was (1), Because of linking/connecting our ideas to history in past, present, and future with all the steps that can be taken to preserve sites, (2), how steel affects the world in more ways than one, and (3), infrastructure impacts on historic landmarks.

 

Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit encourages students 13 years and up to take part in this active program to learn about history and help preserve the historic landmarks throughout Pueblo and the rest of the world. Admission is free, but an application is required to get in. To apply for the upcoming youth summits, go to http://coloradoyouthsummit.virb.com/upcoming-youth-summits.