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Does Chief Niwot, “Lefthand,” Have a Selfie? Is There a Picture of Boulder’s Most Famous Native?


After my education in the East, I came West to Boulder. In 1975 I was told that the catalog I came in on established seven years as the time needed to call myself a “native” of Boulder. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in this lifetime by about 50 years and about three times as long.

Perhaps our most famous true Native American Boulder resident is Chief Niwot, known to English speakers as Chief Lefthand. We’ve all seen a variety of sculptures, murals, and more depicting his likeness. But is that reality?

NO! In reality, there is no  known picture of our most famous Native American. The respect and reverence which he is afforded is earned and well deserved.

It appears that there are no “real” pictures of Chief Niwot, a leader of the Southern Arapaho tribe. The lack of authentic photographs or images has led to artistic representations based on research and interpretation. For instance, a mural of Chief Niwot in Boulder, Colorado, was created by artist JayCee Beyale, who, after researching Arapaho photo collections, compiled characteristics to conceptualize a portrait of Chief Niwot. This approach was taken because actual photographs or images of Chief Niwot do not exist, and the mural aims to honor his legacy and the history of the Arapaho people​. It succeeds marvelously!!!

Chief Niwot’s life and efforts, especially his role in the tumultuous period of Colorado history around the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and Colorado War, are well-documented, highlighting his significance as a peace-seeking leader among Native Americans and settlers during a time of great conflict​​. Beyale’s mural, therefore, serves not only as a tribute to Chief Niwot but also as an educational piece to inform the community about a significant figure in their local history whose visual legacy has not been captured in photographs. His legacy is of course far more important than his likeness, although his “true” appearance is a subject of great interest locally and beyond.


Shared knowledge is power

Leonard Frieling Pen Of Justice Legal Blogger
  • Senior Counsel Emeritus to the Boulder Law firm Dolan + Zimmerman LLP : (720)-610-0951
  • Former Judge
  • Photographer of the Year, AboutBoulder 2023
  • First Chair and Originator of the Colorado Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Committee, a National first.
  • Previous Chair, Boulder Criminal Defense Bar (8 years)
  • Twice chair Executive Counsel, Colorado Bar Association Criminal Law Section
  • NORML Distinguished Counsel Circle
  • Life Member, NORML Legal Committee
  • Life Member, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
  • Board Member Emeritus, Colorado NORML
  • Chair, Colorado NORML, 7 years including during the successful effort to legalize recreational pot in Colorado
  • Media work, including episodes of Fox’s Power of Attorney, well in excess of many hundreds media interviews, appearances, articles, and podcasts, including co-hosting Time For Hemp for two years.
  • Board member, Author, and Editor for Criminal Law Articles for the Colorado Lawyer, primary publication of the Colorado Bar Assoc. 7 Years, in addition to having 2 Colorado Lawyer cover photos, and numerous articles for the Colorado Lawyer monthly publication.
  • LEAP Speaker, multi-published author, University lectures Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, Denver University Law School, Univ. of New Mexico, Las Vegas NM, and many other schools at all levels.
  • http://www.Lfrieling.com
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