Borderlands of Southern Colorado

About the Workshop

Borderlands of Southern Colorado is a place-based workshop in Colorado’s San Luis Valley illuminating the complex history of the American southwest through the intersection of geo-political, geographic, cultural, ethnic, and religious landscapes. Through two, one-week workshops in summer 2021, educators will learn from a diverse and highly-qualified team of History Colorado staff, scholars, mentors, and community members to examine how shifting historic borders and borderlands in the region have impacted individual and community identity, power and government, ecosystems and the economy, land and water, and religion and spirituality; and how these borderlands issues continue to resonate today. Borderlands of Southern Colorado is an opportunity to critically examine our nation’s complex history, engage in critical dialogue, and share diverse viewpoints across the K-12 humanities curricula.

Key Questions

During the workshop, educators will explore the complexity, tragedy, conflict, and hybridity created by natural barriers and the imposition of geo-political borders. Throughout the week, participants will explore key questions:

  1. How does geography intersect with layers of identity such as gender, race, age and class?
  2. How has the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo transformed the country, the people of southern Colorado and the southwest U.S., and how does it continue to be relevant today?
  3. How is the environment shaped by both visible and invisible fences and boundaries?
  4. How do material borders and landscapes inform cultural, political, personal and human borders and landscapes?
  5. How has the sacred connection of landscape impacted life, practices, tragedies, celebrations, and settlement within the region?

“Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge...a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.” - Gloria Anzaldúa (El otro Mexico)

Relevance for K-12 Curricula

The content and skills promoted by History Colorado in the Borderlands of Southern Colorado workshop directly relate to what educators expect in a high quality professional development experience, and provide a toolkit to foster historical inquiry and critical thinking. The institute offers a balance of content and skills development with resources that can be incorporated in a variety of grade levels. It offers a view of history through multiple lenses, often missing in existing textbooks and curricular resources, and a look at a region often overlooked on the national scale.

Sources and Methods

Educators will examine primary source materials such as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, census records of indigenous slaves, oral histories, photographs, artifacts, and property records. Educators will travel virtually throughout the San Luis Valley, including Fort Garland, the town of San Luis, and surrounding communities; experiencing the oldest established communities in Colorado and the physical historic landmarks and landscapes that define the region. They will learn from long-standing community associations such as the S.P.M.D.T.U, Land Rights Council and various social and religious entities about the challenges of protecting land rights, water, culture, heritage and tradition. They will engage in discussions about water, expansion, labor, and settlement --- topics intersecting directly with national standards, and which align with discussion of early America, westward expansion and modern governments. Educators will experience rich humanities opportunities, such as mariachi (music), folklorico (dance), poetry and the visual arts, all of which can be used as primary and secondary sources integrated throughout interdisciplinary studies at the K-12 level and meeting district, state, and our national social studies C3 curriculum framework while incorporating multi-level literacy connections for students.