November 16, 2012

Casual Friday: The Columbus of Denver

When I was in Denver for the Western History Association conference last month, I was wandering around downtown and noticed a few monuments in a park. Two of them didn't surprise me, bronze sculptures titled "Bronco Buster" and "On the War Path": stereotypical images you expect to see in the West.

A third monument, not far from the other two, however, surprised me. It was not something I was expecting to see in Denver. It is a monument to Columbus. He apparently had four arms and four legs.

What was even odder than the image, however, was the wording on the plaque. Here's the text, placed there in 1970:
Italian Visionary and Great Navigator 
This bold explorer was the first European
to set foot on uncharted land, on a West Indies
beach in 1492. His four voyages brought Europe
and the Americas together, forever changing
history. A new nation was to rise. A new
Democracy was born.
In researching a little about the monument, I discovered that Denver has apparently become the host of two annual Columbus Day parades, one honoring Columbus with the other being a counter demonstration. During a 1989 demonstration the monument was splashed with fake blood, for which AIM activist Russell Means was tried and found not guilty for defacement of the monument.

So, for those of you more familiar with the patriotic and religious makeup of Colorado, what is this monument doing in downtown Denver?

No comments: