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Task Force on Native American Inclusivity issues report

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Rebecca Chopp

Letter  •

To: DU community

“With a few notable exceptions, Native American population and culture has been ignored by higher education. Native American student enrollment, employment of faculty and staff, as well as curriculum and an understanding of cultural practices, is under-represented or ignored within academia. … This has also been the case at the University of Denver, but is of particular significance due to the University’s history.” –Strategic Recommendations of the University of Denver Task Force on Native American Inclusivity

Dear friends,

You may recall that in April of 2015, we announced the creation of the Task Force on Native American Inclusivity, an idea that grew out of substantial conversations on campus regarding the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre and, more broadly, the atrocities that this nation has perpetrated against Native peoples and the continuing struggle of Native peoples and cultures.

Today, we share with you the report and recommendations they have provided to address the areas we asked them to explore: how we can support Native students at DU; the ways in which we can fulfill our mission to serve the public good with respect to Native communities; and how we can expand our educational efforts to remember the past and shape a future in which such atrocities cannot recur.

We want to thank the members of the task force, which was co-chaired by Billy Stratton, associate professor in the Department of English, and Vice Chancellor David Greenberg—and all of those who helped with the creation of this report—for their extraordinary efforts. The report is substantive and its recommendations well-reasoned—and it will help the University’s important aim of Inclusive Excellence.

In the past year, as it was conducting its work, the task force helped the University move forward on a number of issues:

  • The University incorporated Native cultural traditions into the Chancellor's Inauguration ceremonies, marking the opening and closing of the event.
  • The University provided financial support for the Sand Creek Healing Run and efforts to create a memorial at the state capitol.
  • The task force completed an inventory of courses currently provided across DU addressing Native history and culture.
  • The task force traveled on a fact-finding trip to Dartmouth College to better understand their extensive programs in support of Native American students.
  • The University has posted the position of Tribal Liaison and Program Officer, which will focus on creating a more supportive and sustainable campus climate for Native students.

Many of the recommendations, like hiring of faculty or the exploration of a Native Studies minor, will require consideration by academic programs and other established groups on campus. Others, like establishing a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Wyoming, Montana and Oklahoma, will require extensive conversation.

The University of Denver sits on land once occupied by the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples. Throughout our history as an institution, Native students, faculty members and staff have been a part of our community, although we as a University have not provided the level of resources necessary to create equitable opportunities and a fully inclusive environment.

We encourage you to read the report and to think about the ways in which we as a community can specifically acknowledge and engage our history and, in the process, create a greater and more inclusive DU.


Rebecca S. Chopp, Chancellor
Gregg Kvistad, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor