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Using Archaeology To Bring Women's History To Life

DENVER (CBS4) – Amache Ochinee Prowers was the daughter of a traditional Cheyenne leader. She married John Prowers, a trader from Missouri. Together they settled in Bent County, in a former settlement called Boggsville, located near where the Purgatoire River meets the Arkansas River in southeast Colorado. John Prowers became the first cattle rancher in that area, and is known to have introduced Hereford cattle to Colorado. Amache Ochinee Prowers was by his side the whole time, leaving her own lasting mark on history, even though it is not well known.

Amache Ochinee Prowers
(credit Bonnie Clark)

"Some of the important native plants that people continue to use, the practices that she brought into her home, the effect of traditional Cheyenne practices on the architecture at Boggsville," said Bonnie Clark, PhD., a professor in the University of Denver's Anthropology Department, and a professional archaeologist. "They really kind of downplayed her ties to her heritage, which is something that really comes through in the archaeological record."

Clark uses traditional archaeological techniques to uncover the lives of people who are not well represented in the historical record, and that's often women and people of color.

"Women of color were really super important cultural mediators," she told CBS4. "They are important in these first original settlements, and sort of, paving the way for the success of the men they were partnered with."

Clark at Amache close-up
(credit Bonnie Clark)

By using archaeology  to uncover these important historical figures, Clark, herself, is a "Bold Woman" who's "Changing History."

"Those voices that we often don't hear are things that I can, kind of, piece together from what I see on the ground," she explained.  "Those are the kinds of narratives that I think that we need because we only make a strong society when we understand that everyone contributes to that society."

LINK: For Tickets & Information About Bold Women. Change History.

You can hear more from Bonnie Clark during her talk for Bold Women. Change History. at History Colorado. She'll be speaking on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022, at 7pm.

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