Renaming of Byers Branch Library Heads to Community Vote

Voting is now open to the community to rename the Byers Branch Library through Thursday, September 30, 2021. The public can go to or stop by the Byers Branch Library (675 Santa Fe Drive) during open hours to pick up a printed voting form. A call for name recommendations during the summer resulted in a total of 41 submissions by the community.

The final five names fit the criteria created by the Renaming Community Committee that is being spearheaded by Library Commissioner Jehan Benton-Clark and District 3 Councilwoman Jamie Torres.

The final branch names include: 

  • Chief Black Kettle - Recognized as one of the most prominent “peace of chiefs” of the Western plains, Chief Black Kettle participated in the Treaty of Fort Laramie. In November of 1864, his camp along the Sand Creek was attacked by Colonel Chivington. He continued to promote the cause of peace until his death after being forced to relocate to Oklahoma by soldiers.
  • Chief Left Hand - A fluent English speaker who could also speak multiple native languages, Chief Left Hand became an excellent negotiator between tribes and white settlers. He participated in the Treaty for Fort Laramie and the Fort Wise Council and in 1864, he was murdered during the Sand Creek Massacre. 
  • Helen L. Peterson (Wa-Cinn-Ya-Win-Pi-Mi) - Appointed as the first director of the Mayor’s Committee on Human Relations in Denver in 1948, Ms. Peterson devoted her life to promoting equal rights, encouraging voter registration and political involvement for minorities, and the successful transition of Native Americans from their reservations. 
  • Thunderbird Man P'awh-Sote K'oot-Tho-Kee (John Emhoolah Jr.) - A Kiowa-Arapaho, Mr. Emhoolah was best known for his leadership at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and the American Indian Center where he advocated for better funding for tribal colleges and the creation of Native American studies across campuses. 
  • Esequiel “Kelly” Lovato - A community organizer, leader and Chicano activist, Mr. Lovato was also part of a group of Chicanos who brought to their community the La Alma Recreation Center. Focused on serving underserved youth, he taught them about responsibility and respect through the sport of tennis. 

The Denver Public Library embarked on the renaming of the branch in the fall of 2020 after discovering that the namesake of the branch had been a supporter of the Sand Creek massacre. Earlier this year, a renaming community committee was formed consisting of a diverse group of community members tasked with leading the renaming process. Over the summer, Denver Public Library requested name recommendations from the community. The committee narrowed down the community’s name recommendations to five choices, now open to a public vote.

All recommended names submitted were researched and vetted. Following the public vote, the final branch name will be presented to the Library Commission on October 21 for final approval. 

The Byers Branch Library opened in 1918 and is one of Denver’s five historic Carnegie Libraries. The branch recently reopened in June after renovations as part of the Elevate Denver bond program. The library’s renovations bring a new look to a familiar community space.


Written by jgosalvez on September 8, 2021