I have no memory of crossing the border between Wyoming (or it could have been Nebraska – I was sleeping) to enter Colorado on April 15, 1979. I woke on a mattress on the floor the following morning. At age four I was a Coloradan. Other than the first 4+ years of my life, I’ve never lived in any other state. In my adult life I’ve visited several, but I’ve never visited more than two weeks in the same place.
My youngest sister, Rhonda, is “Colorado Native.” This is a big deal in Colorado. She was born seven months after we moved here (she’s not in the photo), but we all grew up here.
My husband is technically a native because, though Jim was born in Vicenza Italy, his parents were both Greeley residents and his father was deployed by the US Army. Jim’s family is full of Colorado Natives, all the way back to when Colorado was a territory and not a state. Our children are Colorado Natives too. They were born in Denver and Fort Collins. I am the wife and mother of Colorado Natives, but I am only nearly native.
The funny thing about not being a true Colorado Native (even if I can get the pioneer license plates through marriage) is that I know a lot more about the state’s history than many people. I gave tours of the Nathan Meeker house in Greeley. I visited the Byers-Evan’s house where I learned that I shared a birthday with the Rocky Mountain News. I’ve been to the Molly Brown house and read several books about her. In 2012 I spent an extraordinary amount of time at the Colorado State Capitol building for someone who didn’t work there as a legislator, aid, or lobbyist trying to help more of Colorado’s babies survive. I’m still working on that.
In college, I gave tours of Centennial Village in Greeley and narrated the state’s history to children and adults. After college I served as the President of Friends of the Greeley Museums and on the Historical Advisory Board for the city. During my brief presidency, I put the bylaws and membership lists into digital files. I also commissioned the proper preservation of two historic dresses that are important to the culture and legacy of Colorado as well as women’s history. You can see Rattlesnake Kate’s dress and the case I motioned to have built after finding the dress sitting in the sun in a dirty storage room. I also moved to have a case built (and it was but the dress has since been moved to a museum installment) for Josephine Meeker’s Blanket Dress.
I’ve lived in Colorado for 35 years, but I’ve never visited the cliff dwellings or the four corners. I want to visit Pawnee Buttes and the town of Kiowa where the blind woman I wrote letters for in high school was born in the year 1900. As much a I want to see more of the world, I also want to see my corner of it more clearly. The past two years have been really difficult for our state. Shootings, fracking fights, fires, and floods have all impacted our home, but we are hearty souls in Colorado. While I missed being a true Colorado Native by an infancy and toddler hood, I am proud to be nearly native. I am proud of Colorado, my home.