Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Aurelia Pollard
Editorial@lhvc.com 

New plaque honors Chief Niwot

 

November 19, 2016

Photo by Aurelia Pollard A plaque honoring Chief Left Hand (Chief Niwot) and a memorial to Elizabeth Darling are mounted on a stone in the sculpture park off Niwot Road near 79th Street.

A new stone with a permanent plaque was erected recently honoring Chief Left Hand, or Chief Niwot, by Ni-wot Prairie Productions. The plaque was placed near near the tree carvings on the south side of Niwot Road, across from the Second Avenue intersection and includes a memorial to Elizabeth Darling, who passed away last December.

Mike Anfinson, president of the non-profit organization Ni-wot Prairie Productions, said Darling, who was his wife, was instrumental in working with Native American artist Eddie Running Wolf on the tree carvings and researching information on Chief Niwot for the plaque.

The plaque tells the story of Chief Niwot, written by Boulder’s Ava Hamilton of the Arapaho tribe, and a photo of the famous, but mysterious chief, whom the community of Niwot was named after. Although there have been some questions regarding the accuracy of the photo, Anfinson knew how it was determined to be of Chief Niwot.

“Some people will say there are no pictures that exist of Chief Niwot,” Anfinson said. “But the research Elizabeth did and what the Arapaho believe and what Ava believes, is that this picture depicted on the plaque is Chief Niwot.”

When asked how the identity of the photo was confirmed, Anfinson said the work a family member of Little Raven previously did cleared up any questions they had. Little Raven was a Southern Arapaho chief who worked for peace with the white settlers along with Niwot.

“The grandniece of Little Raven, back in the early 1900s, late 1800s, looked at the picture that we took this from and identified it as Chief Niwot,” Anfinson explained of the photo.

The Boulder History Museum, in its exhibit on Chief Niwot, includes the group photo taken at the Camp Weld conference from which the image was extracted. The Boulder History Museum identifies the individual in the photo as Niwot’s brother, Neva.

Anfinson said the plaque was completed and ready to be installed last fall but due to scheduling conflicts and Darling’s declining health, the finished plaque was postponed.

“She was hoping to see it before she passed, but it didn’t happen,” Anfinson said.

Anfinson didn’t put the plaque up by himself though. He credits a lot of the work to Anderson Masonry, Tribble Stone and Vern, who helped put the stone in the ground and the plaques on the stone.

As far as the memorial to Darling is concerned, Anfinson said he was trying to think of an appropriate way after she died since she was so involved in the project. Through suggestions from some community members, Anfinson found that the best place was on the same stone with the plaque of Chief Niwot.

“[Elizabeth Darling] was the one that made that happen,” Anfinson said. “She worked with Ava on the research of the stories of pictures, and she’s done a lot, a lot of time putting that together and getting it to happen.”

To Anfinson, it seemed like the perfect place for Darling’s memorial, and it not only remembers her work on the Chief Niwot plaque but the many other things she’s done in town, including working with Running Wolf to create the sculptures, working with various Native Americans on the stories for other plaques and her work with Ni-wot Prairie Productions.

Anfinson has received positive feedback from community members who just walk by “and are impressed by what Eddie has done there.” He hopes to hold a dedication for the plaque, the recently-finished Cheyenne Holy Man carving, new rock benches, and paths created for an Eagle Scout project. The Arapaho Grandmother sculpture will be started in the spring, as well as some landscaping next summer.

“I’m really happy that she’s going to be recognized,” Anfinson said of Darling. “She really put her heart and soul into it. I think it was her main fun thing that she really liked doing. She never got paid for any of it, it was just her doing something for a community that has supported her. She’s also had a long time interest in Native Americans.”

 

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