The Southern Rocky Mountains dominate the Colorado landscape, and are the iconic backdrop for Westerns like the Hallelujah Trail, True Grit and How the West Was Won. The state has a rich cultural heritage and was inhabited by Native Americans for centuries before the intrusion of European settlers. Colorado was the setting of many colonial battles for dominance of the North American continent, and its beautiful panoramas belie its fractious and tragic past.
The Contested Plains: Indians, Gold seekers and the Rush to Colorado, Centennial, or Irving Stone’s Men to Match My Mountains: The Opening of the Far West, 1840-1900 all depict the battle for dominance of this mountainous terrain and the story of the Gold Rush in which many men came to their death searching for wealth in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
As with many of the states in the Western United States Colorado’s primary representations in culture are through the films of the Western genre, such as those mentioned above, which depict the frontier spirit which characterized the early years of the state. There are, however, modern day films which take a more humorous look at life in Colorado, such as Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.
John Denver is highly representative of the music of Colorado, as many of his songs are about the state, and his nostalgic yearning for it. ‘Rocky Mountains High’ was adopted as one of the state songs in 2007. Denver is the state capital and it is something of a music hub, with bands such The Fray, an edgy rock band, and DeVotchKa, a four piece multi-instrumental and vocal band.