Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2020

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Board votes to rename Kit Carson Elementary after school’s Black former principal

Helen Anderson Toland

Steve Marcus

Helen Anderson Toland, 94, poses on her porch at her home in Las Vegas Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Toland was the first black female school principal in the Clark County School District.

The Clark County School Board voted Thursday night to rename Kit Carson Elementary School because of Carson’s role in the death of hundreds of Native Americans during the colonization of the West.

The West Las Vegas school will be named after Helen Anderson Toland, the first Black woman principal in the Clark County School District. Toland was principal of Kit Carson in the 1960s when Las Vegas schools were still segregated.

School board members congratulated the 94-year-old Toland, who attended the meeting virtually on a video conference call.

Carson led the Long Walk of the Navajo in 1864, forcing Navajo people to walk from modern-day Arizona to New Mexico in the middle of winter. At least 200 Navajo people died of starvation and exposure.

Before the vote Sondra Cosgrove, a history professor at the College of Southern Nevada, spoke in support of the renaming.

“I’m not here to ask you to rewrite history. I’m asking that you approach the representation of history as historians do. Historians continually review and revise historical conclusions based on new evidence. To not do so would be tantamount to lying to the public,” Cosgrove said

Five school board members voted in support of renaming the school. Chris Garvey voted against it because of financial concerns. CCSD estimates the name change will cost $29,000 to $40,500, officials said. Trustees are asking the community to help find funds to cover the cost.

The school is located near D Street and Alexander Avenue.