Time to reckon with our past

After reading various letters in response to Kayla Shaggy’s cartoon bringing public critique of the “Chief” sign, I felt moved to briefly weigh in. I think many of the responses here are missing the point, which is really quite simple: Many Native people feel that the sign is offensive, hurtful and racist. That in itself should be enough to remove the sign and work with Native artists to identify a better alternative (assuming they are ready for such collaboration).

Durango rests on land that was quite literally stolen from Native people. What may have been considered an appropriate roadside sign in the 1950s (by white people) is not going to fly today. Thank goodness. There are many comparable examples of things that passed as appropriate in the 1950s that would make our skin crawl today, and we owe gratitude to those who were most directly impacted by those abuses for calling them out. 

The Clarks, as seemingly well-intentioned community members and business owners, have an opportunity to lean into the ugly history of which all white members of this community are culpable and chart a different way forward. What an honor for a community to be called into reckoning with our past so that our future may be more just, and what an honor for a local business to be bestowed with an opportunity to step into a better future where they allow the voices of the most marginalized among us to dictate the path forward. I hope they bend toward justice.

– Alix Midgley, Mancos