The University of Denver values tremendously our Native American and Indigenous community members. As such, we commit to reckoning with and learning from the University’s complex history and our founder John Evans's culpability in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, which continues to impact the institution’s relationships with Native American and Indigenous communities.
Through our ongoing Native American and Indigenous initiatives, the University of Denver seeks to:
- Acknowledge how our founding is implicated in the historic settler violence against the Nunt'zi (Ute), Tsitsista (Cheyenne), and Hinonoeino (Arapaho) Nations
- Acknowledge and understand how this institution has fallen short in providing sufficient support to our Native American and Indigenous community members—most especially in the context of our history
- Prioritize the healing of Native American and Indigenous students, staff, and faculty, now and into the future, and ensure they feel welcome, holistically supported and celebrated at the University of Denver
- Develop meaningful and reciprocal relationships with Denver and Colorado Native American and Indigenous community to further healing and increase equity on the DU campus and in the local community
This work did not begin in earnest until 2013 when a group of DU’s faculty members formed the John Evans Study Committee with only minimal support from the university. Through the committee’s research, writing and outreach, they explored the University’s history, in particular the circumstances of our founding. They also provided strategic recommendations for how DU could better engage and support Native American and Indigenous community members.
In 2016, Chancellor Chopp established the Native American Inclusivity Task Force, which provided a detailed plan to build upon and expand the scope of the recommendations of the John Evans Committee.
In early 2017, DU established formal partnerships with the Northern Cheyenne, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Nations through the Native American Community Advisory Board, which lead to the raising of their national flags in the Driscoll Student Union in April 2018.
In the fall of 2020, Chancellor Haefner and other DU leaders made seven commitments to the community with the aim to reinforce existing initiatives, create accountability and build momentum.
Our Native American and Indigenous initiatives continue. These initiatives include increasing access to a DU education through support and financial aid. They also include addressing the recruitment and retention of Native American and Indigenous faculty and staff, building an on-campus Sand Creek Massacre memorial, as well as a permanent interior exhibit with accompanying curricula on DU’s history, and exploring the creation of a Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, among other efforts.
This website will document all of this work and serve as a centralized location for updates on our progress to fulfill the commitments we have made to better engage and support DU’s Native American and Indigenous community members, partners and friends.