Denver launches new effort to designate and preserve Native American landmarks


DENVER – The City of Denver is launching a new preservation effort to designate and save culturally relevant Native American landmarks.

“About five years ago, landmark preservation staff, city council, members of our community, we all came together to look really deeply at our landmark preservation ordinance here in Denver,” Becca Dierschow, Denver Senior City Planner said. “During the course of that task force, we realized that only about 13% of our city’s designated landmarks are designated for historically underrepresented or marginalized communities. We saw this as a great opportunity to really get out there and start telling the story of every Denverite.”

City leaders are updating historic landmark designation criteria to include cultural significance.

“We also realized that you can’t designate what you don’t know exists. So, with that in mind, we started the Denver in Context Historic Context Series. And this historic context will be the second in that series, the first being for our Latino Chicano Mexican American communities throughout Denver. And this will be covering our Native American, American Indian, and Indigenous people’s communities in Denver,” Dierschow said.

Denver launches new effort to designate and preserve Native American landmarks

Dierschow said the city will hire a consultant to lead the project and preservation research team which will be made up of members of several Native American communities in Denver.

“This is so that we’re ensuring that a community voice or multiple community voices are leading this effort and sharing the histories the way that they want it to be told,” Dierschow said. “We absolutely want to tell the full history of Denver. And that starts before Denver was even a city, and really honoring the people whose land we now live on.”

Dierschow said the consultant they hire must have a background in historic context writing and architectural history.

“We’re just in the very early stages, right now reaching out to the Denver American Indian Commission, working with the Office of Human Rights and community partnerships, and just beginning our conversations with the community,” Dierschow said.

Dierschow said the project will take about two years to complete.

“Once we have collected all those histories and we have the consultant that has put them together, we’ll go back out to the community with a draft of the historic context. So, they have a chance to review it, provide commentary, you know, add things if they’d like things that we may have missed,” Dierschow said.

Dierschow said Native history didn’t stop when others became interested in the land now known as Colorado and it’s important that Denver’s historic landmarks reflect that.