BOULDER, CO - The University of Colorado is backing away from a proposal to name two of its dorms after two 19th century Arapaho chiefs using the tribe's traditional spellings -- instead looking to use the English names.
A proposal before the school's regents for initial approval Friday would rename the buildings Niwot and Little Raven halls, rather than Nowoo3 (NAH'-wath) and Houusoo (HOH'-soo), the Daily Camera reported. Both were prominent chiefs for the tribe in the 1800s.
More than 20 faculty members backed using the Arapaho spellings, but university spokesman Ryan Huff said administrators want to use the English versions.
"We believe these names will be more easily recognized and referenced by students, visitors, and emergency responders," he said.
Penny Kelsey, an associate professor of English and ethnic studies said that, besides being culturally insensitive, Niwot is a mispronunciation of Nowoo3.
"Wouldn't it be sad if students came here for a four- or five-year education and they weren't able to learn two words, two proper names, in the indigenous language? Let's set the bar a little higher," she said.
Ava Hamilton, a descendant of Chief Little Raven, said her family is excited about the honor but wonders why the university can't use both the English and the Arapaho spellings on the dorms.
"At least their intentions are really good to name and recognize the people who once lived in this area and whose land and homeland this is," she said.