Formerly Kit Carson Park, Now Red Willow Park
In the center of town, and just two short blocks from the plaza lies a park we all know/knew as Kit Carson Park. Named after the famous/infamous Kit Carson, his former house is nearby, as well as the cemetery where his remains are/were buried. The park has always been used for a variety of purposes from concerts, daily Kung Fu classes, picnics and hanging out. There is an area that has been developed as a children’s play area with swings, slides and climbing things.
All was going along just as it had been when I read in the paper just 2 weeks back that the council had voted, almost sua sponte to change the name to Red Willow Park. The reason may be obvious, but was stated as a way of making amends, a start at reconciling the past with the truth. Many, many folks see Kit Carson as an having been brutal to our Indian brothers & sisters, a flat out killer and not the type of person to really deserve anything named after him. And right in the face of our Indian brothers and sisters as the Pueblo almost adjoins the park.
Well, no sooner than the name change effective it became controversial, as one might expect. There were questions of whether the Town could do this, and it seems they can. There were questions as to whether this was done too fast, and without community involvement – and my view is it was. But cutting past the procedural stuff to the chase, was it the right thing to do? My view is it was. I have a Pueblo woman who works for me and it seems she feels better for it. So I support it.
This issue may not be over yet and reasonable people can disagree. The truth seems to be that Kit Carson was a complicated man who married Indian and Hispanic women but could be brutal to those people, too.
PS: Since I wrote this entry, the Town of Taos has rescinded the name change. It seems that the Indians who were supposed to be made happy by this were never even consulted. So what the park will be named remains to be seen but stay tuned to this channel for further developments.