AP Photo/The Albuquerque Journal, Eddie Moore
The Taos Town Council passed a resolution to rename Kit Carson Park 'Red Willow' over concerns by critics that the famed scout was cruel to American Indians. (AP Photo/The Albuquerque Journal, Eddie Moore)

Not So Fast: Kit Carson Park in Taos, NM, Might NOT Be Renamed

Alex Jacobs

Public pressure has mounted over the name change of Kit Carson Park to Red Willow Park from all corners as the news spread fast around the country. One councilor who voted for the name change said it was “too hasty…uninformed…and left out the majority of the public.” A letter from the Taos Pueblo Council stated, “the Town Council should’ve consulted Taos Pueblo over the use of the name Red Willow…” but concludes that… “Taos Pueblo supports the name change on behalf of all residents of Taos Valley”. The new vote will take place on July 8, if the new vote is tied, the Mayor will have to cast the deciding vote. Mayor Don Barrone said the intent of re-naming the park was to “unite the community”.

RELATED: Kit Carson Park in Taos, NM, to Be Renamed “Red Willow Park”

Local media has led many stories about the name change of the park with the calling of Kit Carson an “Indian-hater” or “Indian-Killer”, yet no Indian person has actually been quoted as saying that. It all seems to justify defending the Kit Carson (and other American) myths by calling out the “political correctness” of “Native protestors” while declining to talk about these very old racial and cultural issues in Northern New Mexico. Author Hampton Sides, who wrote Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West, has said, in a recent defense of Carson, that Carson shied away from the lime light. Sides says Carson did not understand why these eastern writers were telling tall tales and lies about his life, and he probably wouldn’t have cared at all about the Park named after him or its name change. So if Carson didn’t really care about such things, then wouldn’t a name change be appropriate … as his name is already everywhere in the town and region?

As you can see, the title of Hampton Sides’ book says it all: to defend the icon, the myth and the legend, and they will be voting just a few days after the 4th f July, so it’s surely bound to be a great fireworks show. The last time something like that happened, maybe, was news of The Battle of Little Big Horn and Custer’s defeat on a June 26, 1876, not reaching the American media until the July 4th 100-year birthday party at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Alex Jacobs
Santa Fe NM
July 2, 2014

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