Perhaps the earliest information about Colorado Lithuanians is a news item appearing in the 1899 October issue of the newspaper Tevyne:
There are not many Lithuanians in the Colorado city of Denver. Approximately 13. There are a few Lithuanians in Rapland, mostly from Prussia. They work as farm hands, earn $1.50 a day with meals, $2.50-$3.50 without meals. Most likely there are some fortune seekers in the Rocky Mountains, but nothing is known about them.
The U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that in the period from 1899 to 1914 a total of 280 Lithuanians arrived in Colorado. The Textbook for New Arrivals, published in 1914 by K.V. Rackauskas, provides additional information:
Cameo, Colorado: 12 Lithuanians hanging on. They work at the tunnel in construction. Otherwise nothing is known about their life and working conditions. There are 13 Lithuanian families in Lafayette, and some in the following areas: Marshall, Superior, Louisville, Erie, Puritan, Fredrick.
According to Bruno Zaweckis, who moved from Chicago to Denver in 1924, about 70 Lithuanian families at that time lived in Colorado, mostly in Globeville, in the 10th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard area.
In 1959, only a few families were left in Denver from the earlier Lithuanian arrivals. In most cases, their children had established mixed marriages and with a few exceptions stopped participating in Lithuanian activities. Then a "second" wave of Lithuanians started to arrive, those who left Lithuania because of the Soviet occupation. Their number slowly grew and at one time reached nearly 100 families. Lithuanian activity picked up, the Colorado Chapter of the Lithuanian American Community was established, later the folk dance group "Rūta" was established and close contact was maintained with the state and federal government officials promoting Lithuania's fight for freedom.
In Colorado history seems to repeating itself. The representatives of the "second" wave of arrivals are slowly disappearing because of age and mixed marriages. In their place, a few interested in maintaining the Lithuanian community keep activities going. The situation, however is improving. A "third" wave of arrivals has appeared on the scene. These are the newcomers from newly independent Lithuania. They are joining the local Lithuanian activities and already can be found among the officers of the Lithuanian-American Community [LAC] and the folk dance group. The future of Colorado Lithuanians is in their hands.
In 2001 we celebrated our 30th anniversary and the "Rūta" Folk dancer's 25th anniversary with the biggest Lithuanian gathering in Colorado's history.
In September of 2009, the 19th Symposium of the LAC Senior Board of
Directors was held in Denver for the first time. This event was organized by
several Board members of the Colorado Chapter of the Lithuanian American
Community and was a rousing success. The year before, we had our own booth
at the first annual Eurofest and while we were unable to take part in 2009
because it coincided with the aforementioned symposium, we intend to become
an annual fixture starting in 2010.
The Colorado Chapter of the Lithuanian American Community (CO LAC) is a
chapter of the Lithuanian American Community of the USA. We are governed by
the bylaws and rules of our national charter. Anyone registered with the
CO LAC is considered a member. There is also a national solidarity payment (dues) asked of all members. This dues payment pays for World, National,
Regional and Local community expenses. Those who have paid their dues are
entitled to additional membership benefits. The officers are elected to two
The goals of the CO LAC are to maintain Lithuanian Culture and support
Lithuania. We publish the Žynys newsletter and organize social and
commemorative events, such as the Independence Celebration, picnics and
campouts and the Christmas Social. We facilitate language classes, cooking
classes and handicraft classes, such as weaving, Christmas ornament assembly
and Easter Egg decorating, and we support the "Rūta" dance group.
Now going into 2010, the calendar is full and the anniversaries are over.
Our goals for the next couple of years are:
Provide a higher level of support to the Orphanage in Siauliai
Maintain a high level of activity for the membership
Improve and expand our means of communication
Increase the Colorado LAC budget in order to attract high profile performers for our cultural events
Register as many Lithuanians living in Colorado as possible with the community