Updates & Statements

This Updates and Statement page stands as a source of vital information, keeping our valued community members informed about incidents, campus messages, and community-impacted events. It embodies our commitment to open dialogue and shared responsibility, ensuring that important updates find a home here.

If you have something to share, or need additional support, please contact Stevie.Lee@du.edu 


  • 5/19/2023 | Chancellor Update on DU’s Native American and Indigenous Initiatives

    May 19, 2023

    Dear DU community members,
    Before we close on another academic year and celebrate graduating students, I’d like to share some updates on how the University is serving and connecting with the Native American and Indigenous community on campus and in the Rocky Mountain region.  
    New Recruiter Position

    With the support of our Native American and Indigenous community partners, including Tribal leaders from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, the University of Denver is moving forward with the creation of a recruiting position dedicated to Native American and Indigenous prospective students. The official job description and title are being drafted, and we will work closely with Tribal leaders before finalizing the position and conducting a search process. The goal of this position is to work directly with Native American and Indigenous communities in Colorado and beyond, with particular attention devoted to Cheyenne and Arapaho communities, to help attract and support prospective students and their families interested in attending the University of Denver.
    Updated Advisory Structure 

    For the past decade, the University of Denver has developed partnerships and collaborations with Tribal leaders from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations to address our shared and deeply painful past and ways in which we can work together for an inclusive, supportive future. The counsel of these Tribal leaders plays a critical role in helping the University successfully promote a fuller understanding of the history of the Sand Creek Massacre and the connection to our founder, John Evans. Importantly, we do this all while acknowledging the long-lasting impact the massacre has had on the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples. Their counsel also helps DU create a supportive environment for Native community members on campus today. We are deeply grateful to all those who have been involved in this important work since 2013 and proud of how far we have come.
    One structure in which we’ve benefited from the counsel of Cheyenne and Arapaho elders and community leaders, as well as leaders from other Native communities, is through the Native American Community Advisory Board (NACAB). Established in 2017 and reinvigorated again in 2020, NACAB is comprised of Tribal representatives of the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, as well as members of the Ute Mountain Ute community and Denver Native community.
    When this group met most recently on March 24, 2023, they decided, in concert with DU leadership, that we have reached a point in our work together where it makes sense to evolve the structure. The NACAB will sunset by shifting into two new groups:.
    •    The Cheyenne and Arapaho Council – This council, facilitated by Billy J. Stratton (PhD, American Indian Studies and DU liaison to the NACAB) will be comprised of the Tribal representatives from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations that have been working closely with DU since 2013: Otto Braided Hair and Conrad Fisher (Northern Cheyenne), Gail Ridgely (Northern Arapaho), and Max Bear and Eugene Blackbear (Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho of Oklahoma).

    We are deeply grateful to Otto, Conrad, Gail, Max and Eugene for all their hard work and dedication to this point, and for the wise counsel they will continue to provide going forward on issues directly related to the Sand Creek Massacre and other concerns vital to Cheyenne and Arapaho communities, including a memorial on campus and other opportunities to educate and solemnly commemorate.

    •    The Native American Advisory Council – This council will be comprised of representatives from Native and Indigenous communities here at DU while also providing opportunities for input and collaboration from members of Native and Indigenous communities beyond our institution. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will partner with Native community members to draft the group’s official charge, ensuring their voices are central in this process. This group will be positioned to serve as a trusted and valued advisory group for the DU community on opportunities to engage and support.
    These new structures, along with several new positions created over this time, are representative of how far we have come over the past ten years. It also serves to ensure we are being mindful and respectful of the time and capacities of Tribal leaders with whom we work so closely.
    Dedicated Space

    I shared this past fall that we had identified a house near campus that will serve as a dedicated space for Native students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and other visitors. This space will be a vital hub for connection, collaboration and cultural expression among DU’s Native community. Some members of the Native Students Alliance along with faculty and staff have had opportunities to tour the space and provide feedback. We are currently moving through the details that go into making sure this space best serves the community. We hope to unveil it soon!
    Native American and Indigenous Studies Center

    Provost Clark has been working this year with Angela Parker (PhD, Assistant Professor of History, CAHSS) and Kelly Fayard (PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology CAHSS) on developing a proposal for a Native American and Indigenous Studies Center, which involves three primary areas: reclaiming and preserving Native American and Indigenous languages; supporting Native American and Indigenous arts, including both visual and performing arts; and facilitating and promoting enrichment opportunities for Native American and Indigenous students, including fellowships and a visiting Elders program. They have begun the process of consulting with Tribal communities on these ideas, following consultations with the NACAB and with our Native American and Indigenous faculty, staff, and students.
    I close with another heartful thank you to everyone who has served on NACAB and who will now serve in the two reorganized advisory groups. Your perspectives and advice play a role in helping all at DU feel a sense of belonging and support.


    Jeremy Haefner

  • 11/10/2022 | Chancellor Update on DU’s Native American and Indigenous Initiatives

    Nov. 10, 2022

    Dear DU community members,

    I’d like to share some updates on how the University of Denver continues to move forward in its work to better serve Native American and Indigenous community members and strengthen our partnerships with leaders from the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, as well as members of the broader Denver and Colorado Native communities.

    Dedicated Space for the Native Community

    I am pleased to share that we have identified a place to be used by Native students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni. This space will support community and connection between DU’s Native community and Native partners. It will augment the Community Commons—which will continue its vital role as a hub for all of DU, including our Native community members—by providing a shared location where our Native community members can connect with, learn from and support one another. Just as important, this space will provide a welcome entry for new Native students and their families into the Native community and activities at DU.

    Facilities will work with the divisions of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence (SAIE), as well as with Native students, faculty and staff members, to ensure this space is inviting and that it will help cultivate and nurture a stronger sense of connection and appreciation for Native American community members at DU.

    We are continuing to consult with Native community members about this space and hope to have more details to share before the end of the year, or at the beginning of 2023.

    Elevating Work on Native American initiatives and Support

    Stevie Lee, PhD, now serves as associate director for DEI, Native American initiatives. Stevie serves the DU community as a dedicated mentor, offering leadership and guidance for Native students across DU’s campus, as well as serving as a valuable liaison between the Native community and the University. Her new title and responsibilities reflect the scope of her work and her central role in providing support for Native community members at DU.

    Christine (Chris) Nelson, PhD, joined the DEI team as the faculty director for Native American initiatives. Chris, working alongside Stevie Lee and other faculty directors, provides vision and assessment for the future of Native American initiatives at DU. Through this role and drawing on her scholarly expertise, Chris helps the University better serve our Native community.

    In a more focused role as liaison to the Native American Community Advisory Board (NACAB), Billy J. Stratton, PhD, continues to meet regularly with tribal-appointed representatives, government officials, and elders from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations.

    The Native American Community Advisory Board

    In the spring of 2014, with the goal of strengthening and expanding collaborations and partnerships, then-Chancellor Robert Coombe made a commitment to the DU Native community and Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples at the New Beginnings Powwow held at DU. Two years later, in 2016, the importance of Cheyenne and Arapaho voices on campus was formally codified through the establishment of the NACAB, a recommendation made by the Native American Inclusivity Task Force established by then-Chancellor Rebecca Chopp.

    The NACAB is an independent Native-community-based body, providing advice and counsel to the chancellor and other senior leaders. The NACAB also helps advocate for a nuanced understanding of Cheyenne and Arapaho history and culture on campus. Among the NACAB’s membership is a council of Sand Creek Massacre descendent representatives who are officially appointed by the tribal nations and who have long promoted and continue to advocate for increased and more culturally responsive education about the Sand Creek Massacre and their nations.

    Native-led Archeological Survey at the Kennedy Mountain Campus

    In the spring, the University met with stakeholders—including Native American community members from Colorado and beyond, as well as DU faculty members—regarding the James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus. A limited archaeological survey was conducted by a tribal historic preservation officer from the Crow Nation, which has ties to the area.

    This survey found that while there are sites on the property of historic interest, none of the inspected sites related to past Native use of the property. The University will continue to consult with tribal cultural and archaeological specialists, including those serving on the NACAB, as we fully develop programming at the Kennedy Mountain Campus.

    Native American Studies Center

    Provost Mary Clark continues to work with anthropology professor Kelly Fayard, PhD, and history professor Angela Parker, PhD, as well as Native faculty, staff and students to refine the proposal for a Native American Studies Center at DU. They are currently presenting the draft of the proposal to stakeholders across the community, seeking feedback and input. Once that phase is completed, the proposal will be shared with foundations and philanthropists with keen interest in this field.

    Continued Partnership with Duly Appointed Tribal Leaders

    We are grateful to many as we move forward in our efforts—and especially to Stevie Lee, Billy Stratton and Chris Nelson—for their continued work to ensure the University of Denver is fostering collaborative partnerships with community members and with leaders and elders from the broader Denver and Colorado Native community.

    One meaningful symbol of these partnerships is the University having the continued honor to display the Cheyenne and Arapaho national flags on our campus as a tribute to their sovereign political status and enduring connections to their traditional Colorado homelands. These flags were presented as gifts to DU by officials and traditional leaders of all three nations and reverently accepted by then-Provost Gregg Kvistad and Billy J. Stratton. This gracious and generous act was marked by a ceremony on campus that occurred in conjunction with the 2018 Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run and that emphasized a reinforced and burgeoning formal relationship.

    Currently, these flags are displayed on the first floor of the Mary Reed Building. Throughout the past year, we hosted Cheyenne and Arapaho representatives on campus to tour the Community Commons as a potential location for the flags, ensuring they have a highly visible place of honor and significance.

    Finally, the University is committed to work more closely together with tribal leaders to come to an official and shared understanding of our partnerships. This will enable us to advance our common goals and bring to life our complex history, through projects including a Sand Creek Massacre Memorial and reflection space on campus, and an educational and historical exhibit on the history of the Sand Creek Massacre and its legacy into the present.

    We look forward to continuing these conversations and this important work.



    Jeremy Haefner



  • 9/10/2022 | Involvement Fair

    On Friday, September 10, 2021, at approximately 6:45 pm, three Native Student Alliance (NSA) relatives were verbally harassed by other University of Denver (DU) students associated with Turning Point USA (TPUSA) during the Involvement Fair.

    As the harassment ensued, other Students of Color and allies created a human wall between NSA’s and TPUSA’s information table. Their quick and selfless actions kept our NSA relatives safe from further verbal assault. 

    This hateful incident demonstrates how Native students are not safe on DU’s campus. Since September 10, 2021, the NSA community, including our faculty advisor, has not received any direct contact with anyone from the University’s upper administration. This silence also demonstrates DU administration’s complicity with hate speech and hostile campus environments. Native students are not alone in this, and many other Black and Students of Color are not and do not feel safe on DU’s campus. 

    The NSA community would like to acknowledge and thank the Black students, Students of Color, and Allies for protecting and supporting our community. We would also like to ask for witnesses to assist with filing an equal opportunity incident report for racial harassment through the Office of Equal Opportunity. 

    The Native Student Alliance and our community demand the following:

    1. Open up a full inquiry and investigation into the incident through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX.
    2. Identify the harassing students and hold them accountable according to DU’s honor code.
    3. Revoke Turning Point USA’s charter as a DU student organization.
    4. Faculty, Staff, and Students involved with the planning of the Involvement Fair receive training on how to best support and advocate for Native students.
  • 4/15/2021 | Native Student Alliance Tipi Poles

    On April 15 & 16, 2022, between the hours of 9:00 pm and 5:00 am, the NSA Tipi was vandalized after DU Facilities Management and Planning failed to complete their work order to safely secure the tipi. As a result, unknown individuals broke four tipi poles while one remains missing. The Native and Indigenous community at DU is angered and saddened by this act of disrespect. The Native American/Indigenous Leadership Council (NAILC) stands with Native and Indigenous students, staff, and faculty, who experience hostility on a university campus that claimed to enact values of equity and inclusion.

    Click here to view the Native American and Indigenous Leadership Council (NAILC) Official Statement regarding the recent campus incident

    Click here to view the Chancellor's messaging regarding the incident