Joseph Antoine Janis was born in Missouri in 1824. He went west in 1844 and worked as a scout and translator out of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, which is where he met and married First Elk Woman of the Oglala Sioux. In the summer of 1859, Janis moved his family from Wyoming to Colorado. There, he helped establish Colona, which later became Laporte, the first townsite in Larimer County. Janis is recognized as the first Euro-American settler in the Fort Collins area. (Photo of Janis and friends from Fort Collins History Connection.)
Janis worked as a farmer, translator, for-hire guide, gold prospector, fur-trapper, and trader. In 1878, the U.S. government forced the relocation of all Oglala Sioux to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Janis accompanied his wife and family to the reservation, where he died in 1890.
In 1939, the original Janis cabin was moved to the grounds of the Fort Collins Museum, where it still stands. It is open to the public and is frequented by school groups studying local history.
This large, and rather large-headed, statue of Janis watches over a busy intersection in town.