Glenwood Springs Historical Society secures seed grant for Latin stories project


The Glenwood Springs Historical Society Frontier Museum flies a 50th anniversary celebration banner on November 30.
Rich Allen / Freelance Post

Latino culture has been a blind spot for the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and the Frontier Museum.

A grant to the society aims to solve this problem, by guaranteeing $ 18,000 to the historical society in an attempt to bridge the historical divide between white and Latino communities. The funds will be used as the basis for a project called “Nuestras Historiasâ€.

The project will record and archive interviews with first generation Latino residents in the Roaring Fork Valley. Interviews will be archived with the possibility of future use in interactive exhibits and potential permanent installations, according to a press release from the Historical Society.

“We want to capture these stories before they are gone,” said Glenwood Springs Historical Society executive director Bill Kight. “It’s something that I feel like we’ve overlooked in the community, and we’re responsible for the history of this community, so we really want to improve it.”

According to the 2020 census redistribution data, more than 30% of Garfield County’s population is Latino and growing. But society’s oversight of the contributions of this population is far from unique.

Elizabeth Velasco, CEO of the Interpretation and Translation Company Velasco Colorado and a member of the Latino Foundation of Colorado, said the Latino community is the “backbone of the economyâ€.

“There is a loophole that the Historical Society found in their records that they don’t have a lot of Hispanic or Latino stories, which is a real shame,†Velasco said. “There are a lot of really cool stories of resilience. I think the more we know our neighbors, it will help our community to be united and to work together.

Velasco acknowledged that the project is a small step, but believes that sharing community stories can have an impact. She will coordinate and execute the interviews and lead the project with Beatriz Soto of Conservation Colorado.

Other partners include Carbondale Arts Executive Director Amy Kimberly and Glenwood Springs Middle School teacher Cassandra Irving, as well as her eighth grade social science students.

The funds come from a Colorado Sustaining the Humanities grant, which was made available through the American Rescue Plan’s National Endowment for the Humanities, the statement said. The Historical Society was one of the State’s 79 recipients.

The grant application focused on promoting alternative and inclusive methods to reach the public outside museum walls and on developing a new source of funding in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The project is still in its early stages and Kight has said the $ 18,000 will not fund its entirety. He said the project was looking for additional funding partners.

When it is finished, it is hoped that it will be an avenue to promote diversity in the valley.

“I’m delighted that the facilities can later really share the stories with the community,†said Velasco. “We really want to have a diverse turnout. Latinos are a very diverse community. We come from different countries, from different backgrounds. Not all stories are the same.

Journalist Rich Allen can be reached at 970-384-9131 or [email protected].


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