Tesoro’s 2019/2020 Historic Lecture Series

Each year, our Historic Lecture Series features the finest humanities scholars, historians and authors in the field of Western American history. Tesoro’s lecture series cultivates a new appreciation for the diverse cultures that shaped our current landscape – and this year’s lineup is no different! From the music of the Rio Grande to the origins of New Mexico’s Penitente Brotherhood, 19th century American Western history will come alive through each lecture.

Dinner lectures at The Fort Restaurant include a special prix-fixe menu, featuring The Fort’s famous salad, an entrée and dessert. All proceeds from the dinner lectures are donated to Tesoro Cultural Center’s educational and cultural programs. Free afternoon sessions – either at the Denver Central Library or South Suburban Parks & Recreation Center locations – are also available for the majority of the lectures. 

Read on to discover this season’s lecture topics, then visit the Historic Lecture Series page on our website to purchase your tickets.


October 13, 2019

Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power

Dr. Pekka Hämäläinen explores the Lakota’s roots as marginal hunter-gatherers and reveals how they reinvented themselves twice between the 16th century through the early 21st century: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley and then – in what was America’s first sweeping westward expansion – as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains.


November 17, 2019

The Night The Stars Fell

On November 27, 1833, thousands of meteors showered the sky of North America. To the American Indians, it appeared as though the stars were falling out of the heavens. Join Dr. Steve Lee and fellow presenter Ms. Bethany Williams as they explain this natural phenomenon (today known as the Leonid Meteor Shower) from scientific and cultural perspectives. The Denver Astronomical Society will set up telescopes in The Fort’s courtyard to view the night sky.


January 5, 2020

Black Cowboys in the American West

Who were the black cowboys? Mr. Michael “Cowboy Mike” Seales has published the first overview of the subject in more than fifty years, Black Cowboys in the American West, which surveys the life and work of these cattle drivers from the years before the Civil War through the turn of the twentieth century.


January 19, 2020

Boom and Bust Colorado

State Historian Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel will pictorially scrutinize Colorado’s “ups and downs,” from the Gold and Silver booms and busts to the current explosion in pot shops, brewpubs and craft breweries. What goes up, Tom will remind us, must come down.


March 8, 2020

Penitentes in the American Southwest

Dr. Charles Carrillo will explore the history and origins of the Penitente Brotherhood of colonial New Mexico. Additionally, Carrillo will dispel myths about this lay organization and provide an understanding of La Cofradía de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, the Confraternity of Our Father Jesus of the Nazarene.


March 15, 2020

Music of the Frontier and the Río Grande

Dr. Jay Gitlin will discuss how the accordion flourished in many western communities from the Dakotas to Texas and Louisiana. Dr. Lorenzo Trujillo will demonstrate the violin, guitar and the piano as staples along the Rio Grande through the Santa Fe Trail. The evening will be filled with music, laughter and an insight into the music that filled the camps, dance halls, concert halls and taverns of the West.