January 20, 2022

Neguse, Buck Introduce Dearfield Study Act

Legislation Will Study the Process of Including the Dearfield Homestead in the National Park System

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, and Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.) introduced the Dearfield Study Act, legislation that would direct the Department of Interior to conduct a special resource study on the Dearfield Homestead, which was the largest black homesteading settlement in Colorado, located 70 miles north of Denver. The purpose of the study is to assess the historical significance of Dearfield and determine the feasibility of it becoming part of the National Park System. This bipartisan effort follows on Congressman Buck’s and Neguse’s partnership on the Amache National Historic Site Act.

Founded by Oliver Toussaint Jackson in 1910, the the Dearfield Homestead reached its peak in the late 1910s and early 1920s with multiple churches, a hotel, restaurants, and numerous businesses. A gas station, a diner, and O.T. Jackson’s home, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, remain standing in the town. Jackson was inspired by Booker T. Washington to establish the colony with the belief that land ownership was the best path to prosperity for African Americans. The thriving agricultural community was home to as many as 700 residents from 35 states before the Dust Bowl and collapsing crop prices forced many residents to return to the Denver area.

“The cultural places and stories we choose to protect reflect our values as a nation,” said Rep. Neguse. “The Dearfield Homestead holds a unique place in Colorado’s historical record, and this study will serve as a critical step in assessing the benefits of incorporating the site into the National Park Service to further support and preserve it. I’m grateful to partner with Congressman Ken Buck on yet another effort to preserve Colorado’s historical places.”

“America must always be mindful of its past,” Rep. Buck stated. “We cannot properly do that if we do not preserve physical elements of our history. I appreciate the important work that the University of Northern Colorado and the Black American West Museum have done to preserve Dearfield’s history thus far, and resources from the National Park Service will help this work continue for years to come.”

Tracy Coppola, Colorado Senior Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association stated: “Preserving Dearfield for current and future generations is integral to a better understanding of the unique and relatively unknown African American experience on Colorado’s eastern plains, and it’s also a bridge that can connect us toward a fuller, more representative story of our nation. We are thankful Congressmen Buck and Neguse are leading this bipartisan effort in partnership with individual stakeholder descendants, scholars, and county commissioners, and we support the National Park Service conducting a Special Resource Study to determine the feasibility of adding the site to the National Park System going forward.”