Commentary: Kit Carson — a messy, violent and fascinating man

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014 7:00 pm | Updated: 8:27 am, Sun Jun 22, 2014.

So Taos has decided to change the name of its park. “Kit Carson” is too touchy, too hot to handle, too incorrect. Now it will be called “Red Willow Park.” What is going on here?

History, real history, is messy and fraught with contradictions. Even some of our greatest historical figures were flawed characters. George Washington, as a young man, fought and killed Native Americans. He, like Jefferson and many other of our founders, owned slaves. Lincoln, probably our greatest president, personally signed the orders approving the Navajo war that Kit Carson reluctantly led during the 1860s.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety. You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



You must login to view the full content on this page.

Thank you for reading 5 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 5 free articles, or you can get complete access to the online edition for $2.49 a week. If you need help, please contact our office at 505-986-3010 You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Rules of Conduct

  • 1 No Alias Commenters must use their real names.
  • 2 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 3 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. and please turn off caps lock.
  • 4 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • David Fernandez posted at 6:48 pm on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    Fernandez de Taos Posts: 3

    Dear human brothers and sisters...it is the most unfortunate fact of history and of life even today that there is absolutely no race or tribe in the world that has not at one time or another perpetrated oppression and killing of others; whether thousands of years ago, or in pre-Columbian America, and everywhere else in all the world. Let us not continue to be self-serving and hypocritical and pretentiously morally superior to others, but rather let's grasp the fortunate fact of human history and life that is also key to our existence, which is divine altruistic wisdom, the universal Blessing Way. Que la Paz y la Gracia del Altisimo mora con nosotros siempre!

  • Selina Serrano posted at 3:48 pm on Tue, Jun 24, 2014.

    dreamweaver Posts: 10

    let's rewrite history for the offended

  • James Wilson posted at 9:21 am on Mon, Jun 23, 2014.

    Thank you Masked Man Posts: 22

    Dense: 2a : slow to understand

  • David Romero posted at 7:11 pm on Sun, Jun 22, 2014.

    bigd1973 Posts: 94

    I can understand Hermosa's resentment of Carson for what he represents. I also read Blood and Thunder and was riveted by it's content. Carson put his life on the line for others many times, including native New Mexicans. Calling him "trash" is going a little too far. One could also call Manuelito trash for the exact same reasons, but does the shoe fit?

  • Jon Hermoso posted at 11:04 am on Sun, Jun 22, 2014.

    Jon Hermoso Posts: 3

    Got cut off but you get the point. Your defense is not of a noble pioneer who only acted in self defense because of the time he lived in but of a war criminal who killed many to expand slavery as even Grant and Jackson put it. Kit Carson is trash says a real New Mexican not some outsider from the east like you and Mark Simmons.

  • Jon Hermoso posted at 11:00 am on Sun, Jun 22, 2014.

    Jon Hermoso Posts: 3

    First let me get this out of the way. Blood and Thunder is a great book. Ok why are you still defending this man? It is like defending Juan Ornate. You say he lived in a dangerous time. That he was in danger just walking 5 miles out of town with out someone trying to kill him. Fine then he could be violent in self defense. Kit Carson used his violence to kill innocent people who were defending their home from a foreign aggressor. This does not make him a hero but a villain, a terrorist. You say he was a good man unless you crossed him. What did we in New Mexico do to cross him besides not want him to rule over us? You say he cared about the Indians. Then why did he take part in their genocide? How could a friend to the Indians force them out of their homes?

    You still celebrate one of this states greatest villains. Carson did not represent a benevolent force here to civilize us. He represented a slave holding ethnic cleansing nation, hell bent on stealing more land no matter how many innocent people got killed. All Mexicans and Indians who died defending this place from the Americans are the real heroes who deserve to be remembered.

    Look It's not just Carson but Don Diego De Vargas that needs to be shown for what they were. Terrorists of the highest order. I'm Hispanic and I


Write us! We welcome opinions from the readers. Send either letters (150 words) or My Views (600 words) to letters@sfnewmexican.com.

You can write a letter once a month or one My View every three months. We require the letter writer's name, address and phone number to be considered for publication. We also encourage writers to include a photo of themselves.

Any questions? Call Letters Editor Jennifer West at 986-3063.

Today’s New Mexican, July 23, 2014

To view a replica of today's printed edition of The Santa Fe New Mexican, you must be a subscriber. Get complete access to the online edition, including the print replica, at our low rate of $2.49 a week. That's about the price of a cup of coffee. Or get online and home delivery of our print edition for $3.24. Click here for details.