The West Still Beckons at Colorado State University During American West Program

The blending of immigration, imagination, wealth and tragedy in the rise and fall of Colorado’s coal industry will be the topic of a slide show and discussion at 7:30 p.m. June 17 at the Lory Student Center at Colorado State University. The talk is part of an ongoing series of programs presented by the university’s American West Program, now in its 20th year.

Historian Willis Knierim will explore Colorado’s mining economy and the people who comprised the work force. Knierim, who retired from the Boulder Valley School District in 1996, has been recognized by colleagues and the community for his teaching excellence and creativity in the classroom. He started teaching in the Boulder Valley School system in 1963.

The rich, complex history of the West will continue to unfold in a slide show and talk by Colorado State history lecturer Blane Harding at 7:30 p.m. June 24 in Room 113 of the Natural Resources Building at Colorado State. Harding will discuss "The Search for Dignity: Blacks in the West," and focus on the founding and eventual decline of the all-black towns of Nicodemus, Kansas and Dearfield, Colo. Harding, who depicts a slave named William for schools throughout the region, will begin his talk with a discussion of the philosophy of Black Nationalism and the influence of black individuals on the West.

The theme of this year’s American West Program, which runs until early August, is "The West Still Beckons!" Events and presentations explore the roles of many ethnic and immigrant groups in the social history of the West. All programs begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Programs take place in the Cherokee Park Room of the Lory Student Center or Room 113 of the Natural Resources Building. The final event in August, featuring a polka band, will be at Library Park, 200 Mathews St.

Each year, a poster has been created by Bob Coonts, a local graphic artist, to highlight the theme of the American West Program. His work has won awards in international competition and is displayed in museums in Mexico, Slovakia, Japan and Germany. His earlier posters are considered collector’s items.

A schedule of events follows.

* June 17, Lory Student Center – "Coal Fields of Colorado: People and Problems," Willis Knierim, teacher and historian from Boulder.

* June 24, Natural Resources Building – "The Search for Dignity: Blacks in the West," Blane Harding, historian and lecturer at Colorado State. * July 1, Lory Student Center – "North Denver’s ‘Little Italy’ Comes of Age: 1920-1940," Janet Worrall, history professor at the University of Northern Colorado-Greeley.

* July 8, Natural Resources Building – "The Italian Massacre at Walsenberg, Colo., 1895," Conrad Woodall, programmer/analyst at Colorado State’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. * July 15, Lory Student Center – "A Multicultural Storytelling Musical History of Colorado and the Cheyenne Wars," Pat Mendoza, storyteller, singer and composer from Denver.

* July 22, Lory Student Center – "The West Beckons Women, Too!" Corky Bush, director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action at Montana State University-Bozeman.

* July 29, Lory Student Center – "They All Came to Pueblo: Pueblo’s Ethnic History 1860-1920," Joanne Dodds, assistant director of Pueblo Library District.

* Aug. 5, Library Park – An evening of Western music with the Adolph Lesser Polka Band, 200 Mathews St.

EXHIBITS: The Colorado Historical Society will present two exhibits, "William Henry Jackson: The Lens of Memory" and "The Rio Grande Textile Tradition from Southern Colorado," through July 31 at the Curfman Gallery of the Lory Student Center.

In addition, the Fort Collins Museum, 200 Mathews St., displays permanent exhibits as well as a special traveling exhibit this summer, "La Gente: The Hispanic People of Larimer County." For more information on the American West Program, call Harry Rosenberg in the history department at 491-5230.