Discover a world of resistance and resilience in Borderlands of Southern Colorado, opening February 2, 2021 at the History Colorado Center, downtown Denver’s only Smithsonian affiliate museum. A speaker-series also begins statewide on January 21. More information and tickets are available via h-co.org/borderlands.
History Colorado’s newest 21st-century exhibit is built not on cutting-edge technology or trends but with time-honored methods of good listening and patience. It will remain on view indefinitely as a new core exhibit. Rich in oral histories and other first-person accounts, it reflects more than seven years of research and collaboration and evolves from two ongoing sister exhibits in Pueblo and Trinidad, home to smaller museums in History Colorado’s family that cultivate deep reciprocal relationships. The work centers Chicano, Indigenous, and Mestizo perspectives.
Presented in English and Spanish, Borderlands explores the shifting geopolitical history of southern Colorado. This area framed by mountains and rivers is naturally conducive to unique and resilient forms of cultural connection. An international border crossed over the people in this region, changing their lives forever, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo moved a portion of the US–Mexico border from the Arkansas River—which flows through the middle of Colorado—down to the Rio Grande in 1848.
Residents with long generational ties to the region were dispossessed in many ways of land, wealth, and legal claims by this outcome of the Mexican–American War. What emerged was not a clean slate but a new iteration of the everlasting borderlands, a rich tapestry of merged cultures enduring through conflict, collision, and the fateful connections that continue in the present day. Through the diaspora of the San Luis Valley, the legacy of the borderlands permeates Denver, as well.
About the Speaker Series
History Colorado began hosting nationally recognized speakers on Borderlands topics in the fall of 2018 at El Pueblo History Museum, which stands on the former Mexico–U.S. border. Like its partner exhibits, the series explores the culture, geographies, literature, and art that define borderlands, per the Chicana theorist Gloria E. Anzaldúa, as unique places in a constant state of transition. Now a digital forum available to audiences throughout the state and beyond, Borderlands has an impressive line-up for 2021.
Historian Derek Everett kicks off the season on January 21. L.A. Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco U.S.A. and guest on Netflix's Taco Chronicles, discusses food in the Borderlands on February 11. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People's History of the United States, appears March 11. María E. Montoya, Dean of Arts and Sciences at NYU Shanghai and author of Translating Property, presents on April 8. Anthropologist and retired CSU professor of Ethnic Studies Norberto Valdez talks on May 13. Additional speakers will also be announced. Details and tickets are available on the series page and at h-co.org/borderlands.
Sponsors and Credits
The Borderlands of Southern Colorado speaker series is supported by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and Colorado State University Pueblo.
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that serves more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 141-year-old institution that operates Colorado’s oldest museum, nine additional museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. The SHF currently administers more than 280 grants across Colorado, of which more that 70% are allocated in rural areas.
History Colorado’s outlets are publishing Black voices and confronting entrenched racism in historic preservation. Within the last year History Colorado has added curators of Latino Heritage and LGBTQ+ History to its staff, and added a full-time position to its Museum of Memory team, which works proactively to incorporate underserved communities and voices into its contemporary collecting initiative and other efforts. The History Colorado Center is the nation’s first state history museum to display a monument toppled this summer with new, inclusive interpretation. History Colorado now shares anti-racist grounding virtues in all of its job postings, and asks all applicants to describe how these principles show up in their work.
History Colorado’s eight museums around the state were among the first cultural institutions in Colorado to reopen to visitors under new safety protocols. The swift return to in-person service in June and December followed an agile reorganization in response to Covid-19 that catalyzed new avenues for youth education, full-length episodes of its podcasts, and a weekly digest with over 25,000 subscribers. It has also ramped up safe, affordable child care and remote-learning support for families experiencing school disruptions.
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and nine other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.