For a lot of children, books about magical worlds and bigger than life adventures are the best way to spend their time. But when she was young, Dr. Nicki Gonzales immersed herself in the chronicles of history. And as the newly announced Colorado State Historian, that passion has clearly served her well.
“History books are what got me hooked. I always tell my students, you don’t have to watch Netflix if you study American history,” she said. “I was interested in times like World War II, but I was always more interested in stories about places I lived and people I knew.”
Gonzales, who is currently a professor of history and vice provost for diversity and inclusion at Regis University, begins her one-year term in her new role on Colorado Day, Saturday, Aug. 1. She’s taking over for historian and author Dr. Duane Vanden-busche.
According to provided information, Gonzales is the first Latino person to be the state’s historian (a position established in 1924). “Colorado’s State Historian has been part of a five-person council since 2018, when History Colorado established the State Historian’s Council to amplify different perspectives and to reinforce the collective foundation of history and storytelling,” that information explained. The council rotates its leadership position every year on Colorado Day.
Gonzales’ specialty is Chicano history and Southwest social and political movements, as well as the experiences of Chicano Vietnam veterans. A key topic Gonzales wants to promote during her time as Colorado State Historian is young people getting interested in history, particularly in the state’s history. She credits her teachers as a crucial component in the development of her own historical passions and wants children to work intergenerationally with family members to see the personal side of the field.
She is also particularly interested in sharing the stories that directly affect the world we’re all living in currently.
“I’ve been working on the histories of underrepresented people in the community and that’s something I’d like to focus on in the coming year,” she said. “I’m also working on an exhibition about the Sand Creek Massacre with tribespeople and History Colorado.”
With the recent pushes toward more accurate historical records and studies, Gonzales said its now cool to study the past. And she wants to take all the current interests and use it to make a better future.
“People love to read about the migrants who came west and the gold rush, but I’d like people to dive more into racial history in the state — Indigenous history, Latino history and Chinese history,” she said. “Once we know our past, it’s easier to have difficult conversations. And as a society, we need to have those conversations.”
For more information, visit www.historycolorado.org/state-historians-council.
Get a Taste of the West at Colorado Mills
The best thing about food festivals is the opportunity to sample the offerings of fantastic restaurants or chefs all in one place. That’s exactly what attendees at the West Metro Chamber’s annual Taste of the West will be treated to from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5.
Held at the Colorado Mills’ parking deck, 14500 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood. In addition to food and drinks from places like 240 Union and Clear Fork Cider, there will also be a business expo featuring local organizations like Colorado Arts Productions and Developmental Disabilities Resource Center.
Get all the details at www.westmetrochamber.org/events/taste-west/.
Annual Boutique Week features some of Denver’s best
For the third year, Denver Boutique Week is here to highlight some of the best locally-owned black businesses in the city. The event runs from Friday, July 30 through Friday, Aug. 6, and features a curated list of participating businesses, including both online and brick and mortar businesses like Yarn Shoppe Denver, Vintage Handbags Denver, Shop at Matter and TNicoleB Collections.
Many of businesses will have special discounts and promotions going during the week. And in the process, participating shoppers can get a boutique week t-shirt, an event postcard and gift card drawing entry for several of the businesses. For more information on the event, visit denverboutiqueweek.com.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at Red Rocks
When you listen to music, do you notice the lyrics or the music first? Whatever your answer is, Alabama’s Jason Isbell has something to move you. Isbell’s sound is blend of folk, rock and blues that was perfected with the Drive-By Truckers, one of this century’s great touring bands. And his pen can make you stop in your tracks with a simple turn of phrase.
Isbell and his band, The 400 Unit, will be joined by another songwriting legend, Lucinda Williams, for a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1. This will be a showcase of some top-tiper wordsmiths — don’t miss it by getting tickets at www.redrocksonline.com.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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