Evanston must move on from its corrupt founding father

Evanston must move on from its corrupt founding father

Callie Grober, Opinion Editor

Remember your history.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we, as Evanstonians, need to educate ourselves on the human rights violations committed by our city’s namesake, and rethink our memorialization of him. Evanston, founded in 1853, is named after politician and founder of Northwestern University John Evans. Unknown to many Evanstonians is the fact that Evans served as governor of Colorado and in 1864 ordered an attack on an encampment of Native Americans who were on Colorado territory, killing about 160 Native Americans, including 110 women and children. Evans’ guilt was later proven by U.S Congressional committees in a series of trials during which Evans was convicted of lying to cover up his involvement.

Now, over 200 years later, we continue to honor Evans; Northwestern University named their alumni center after him and there is a private apartment building called the John Evans building just off the Northwestern campus. That’s to say nothing of the constant memorialization he receives every time someone refers to our city by name.

The continuance of Evans’ legacy needs to stop. It celebrates someone not only responsible for over 150 murders, but for the continued oppression of native peoples in our country, it’s a constant reminder of the people lost and the disregard our city and country has for them.

John Evans may be the founder of our city and a prominent university, but when someone has the blood of over 150 people on their hands, we should not be naming buildings after them in their honor. The John Evans Center should be renamed to honor a past dean or administrator, and the name of the John Evans apartment building should be changed to honor another Evanston founder or politician.

Continuing Evans’ legacy with buildings named after him is just another way Native Americans are disrespected and ignored in American society today. Our city cannot remain ignorant of these human rights violations, we must show respect for all those that lost their life at Evans’ hand.

Tales such as Evans’ are all too common in the United States; across the country we memorialize icons of racism and violence. We as a nation must weigh history and person equally. We can’t celebrate the former without understanding the latter. John Evans and other figures in US history must be remembered for what they truly were: murderers.