Letter to the Editor: Keep the name of the pageant the same

Dear Editor:

It was interesting to me that Dolly Viscardi, in her column a couple of weeks ago, used my Uncle Roy (LaRoy) Purdy to reinforce an argument for changing the name of the Meeker Massacre Pageant to the Meeker Pageant. Needless to say, I knew Roy Purdy very well. Roy Purdy was the driving force behind getting the W.P.A. Federal Arts Program, offered during the Depression by the federal government, to help pay for the printing, advertising and etc., so the pageant could become a reality. He also wrote and directed the first pageant. He generated this money for the first Meeker Massacre Pageant to be performed. His idea was to help work out a way to bring more people to Meeker for the annual festivities and he did this with an eye toward bringing more money into the community at a time when the need for cash flow was severe. Since that time the Range Call Rodeo and Parade and Massacre Pageant have been major draws for bringing money into Meeker. It was a very nice legacy he left his home town but I must say I never once heard him say anything about not liking the name of the Meeker Massacre Pageant or ever heard him say he wanted to change it. On the contrary, he would probably have asked who would come watch “The Meeker Pageant”? To imply that he would have changed the name is untrue.As most people in town know, I am personally responsible for presenting a petition, signed by many people from the area, requesting the name be left “The Meeker Massacre Pageant.” I turned this petition over to Bill Jordan to be read by the Range Call Committee and a copy to our new director of the pageant, Laurie Zellers, to be read by the massacre pageant committee. In that petition and in this newspaper I outlined a few very good reasons why the name should not be changed. If the reason is so we won’t offend the Ute Indians (because they don’t like how they were portrayed), I do have an objection to that. Not so long ago people decided that the history in our history books was not true and because of that history is not taught as much as it was to our children. My contention is that children in this country are not learning enough about their own history and now the people who objected to history as being untrue are trying to change the history of this community because it offends someone. You do not have the right to change this without a consensus of the people who live here and that is the reason I went out to find what some of the people in our community thought about the change and if there were some who felt as I do. I don’t understand how a handful of people can make such a decision for the whole of this community without their express wishes and I sincerely hope these committees and the Indians will understand that this is not intended as a slur on the committees or on the Ute People. On the contrary, it is done with the hope that they can understand that we do not want to change our history or protect our children from knowing about it. After all it was not the Indians who were at fault that this conflict started. To put it correctly, it was the fault of Nathan C. Meeker, a white man. However, if we do not teach our children where their own forbears went wrong, how do you keep this kind of thing from happening again in the future?

Thank you,

Sandy Shimko