The Native American Advisory Council

Purpose and Mission

The University of Denver Native American Advisory Council (NAAC), formally known as Native American Community Advisory Board (NACAB), was established by the Task Force on Native American Inclusivity (2016). The NAAC’s members provide strategic expertise and valuable advice on how the University can better serve, recognize, and support our Native American students, faculty, and staff, as well as Native American communities more broadly. The NAAC’s work is both internal and external to the University. Internally, it focuses on what we can do to better support our Native and Indigenous community members, as well as reckon with and learn from our institution’s painful history. Externally, the NAAC consults on how we can meaningfully connect with and celebrate Native American communities in Colorado and beyond.

After a year of dormancy from 2019-2020, in September 2020, students demanded the NAAC meet again to discuss important Indigenous and Native American initiatives at the University of Denver. The NAAC last met in November 2020. 

The next meeting of the NAAC will take place in spring 2021. Tribal representatives of the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, as well as members from the Ute community and Denver Indian community, will gather to continue our ongoing collaboration. Through these meetings, we aim to strengthen our partnership with Native American and Indigenous communities and promote healing and understanding.


  • Build and Nurture Partnerships

    The NAAC's focus is to build and nurture meaningful partnerships between DU and the Arapaho and Cheyenne nations, as well as the broader Native American and Indigenous communities and organizations, especially in the Denver Metro area.

  • Historical Commemoration and Institutional Memory

    The NAAC addresses issues of historical commemoration and institutional memory, the development, and expansion of Native American curriculum and academic programs. The Council will also address recruitment and retention strategies for Native American students, faculty, and staff.

  • Resource for the Special Advisor

    The NAAC serves as a vital resource for the Special Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Native American Partnerships and Programs. Billy J. Stratton, Ph.D., currently holds this position.

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Statement of Vision

The University of Denver was founded and is located on the land and territory of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Nations while bordering the territories of the Ute and several other Native nations. This imperative acknowledgment honors these geographic relations and the complex sense of historical responsibility bound within them.

The Native American Advisory Council (NAAC) is instituted to encourage a greater understanding of this shared past and to promote and support efforts to enhance diversity, inclusivity, and the public good as relating to Native American faculty, staff, and students as vital elements of the University of Denver’s institutional mission and strategic goals. This advisory board is also conceived and intended to provide a means of bringing the University of Denver and non-affiliated constituencies together to support the aspirations of the diverse Native American peoples, communities, and nations that the University of Denver serves.


The Native American Advisory Council (NAAC) is drawn from University of Denver constituencies, as well as representatives from the Native community and Native-serving organizations. The six permanent positions on the advisory board will be convened by the special advisor on Native American partnerships to generate ideas and feedback. The NAAC’s members will also provide strategic advice and expertise on University of Denver initiatives and other issues relevant to Native American populations and communities. The advisory board members will serve on-year terms, concurrent with the University of Denver academic schedule, with the option of annual renewal.

The 2020-2021 membership of the NAAC is:  

  • Otto Braided Hair (Northern Cheyenne), Official Tribal Representative Sand Creek Massacre Descendants, Organizer of Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run. 

  • Gail Ridgely (Northern Arapaho), Official Tribal Representative Sand Creek Massacre Descendants, tribal historian, and retired educator. 

  • Max Bear (Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho), Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma Tribal Historical Preservation Officer. 

  • Ernest House Jr. (Ute Mountain Ute) Senior Policy Director for the Keystone Policy Center, former Executive Director Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs 

  • Sid Whiting Jr., (Lakota) Tall Bull Memorial Grounds Board of Directors, Organizer for Denver March Powwow.  

  • Dr. George 'Tink' Tinker (Osage) Iliff School Theology (retired). 

  • Stevie Lee (Diné) Native American Liaison and Program Manager, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Denver.