Renaming dsst byers high school
DSST Byers is a Middle and High School located in Denver, CO. The school is named after William Byers, a known supporter of the Sand Creek Massacre. William Byers ran Denver's first newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News from 1859-1878. In an editorial for the paper, Byers wrote published the message: “A few months of active extermination against the red devils will bring quiet, and nothing else will.” Byers's endorsement of the genocide of Indigenous people contributed to a long legacy of generational trauma experienced by Native people in Colorado and their descendants who remain today.
In 2022, Spirit of the Sun joined with community partners to launch a campaign for a name change for the school. Through various community meetings, restorative justice discussions, and public outreach campaigns, we continue to fight for a new name for the school.
We do not want to honor or memorialize people who have systematically harmed communities of color. As institutions dedicated to educating and uplifting future generations, our schools have a responsibility to teach children about the importance of an openness to change in healing past harms.
The sand creek massacre
The Sand Creek Massacre was the deadliest day in Colorado’s history, and it changed Cheyenne and Arapaho people forever. At sunrise on November 29, 1864, the US Army, appointed by John Chivington, attacked a camp of mostly women, children, and elders on Big Sandy Creek in southeastern Colorado. In approximately 8 hours, the soldiers murdered more than 230 peaceful Cheyenne & Arapaho people. This was genocide.
This is not a part of history that the Native people of Colorado have "moved on from" but rather a part of their enduring legacy with impacts that still reverberate into their lives today.
Spirit of the Sun has been educating and mobilizing the community in support of the name change for over a year.
Current task: voting!
We are now in a stage of accruing potential names for the school. In our Indigenous ways, we do not usually name places after people, so please be creative in the different names for the school that will inspire hope, healing and leadership for future generations!
We need to hear from you.