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Update on Native American and Indigenous Initiatives

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Jeremy Haefner

Announcement  •

Message highlights

  • A working group is leading the work to build a Sand Creek Massacre memorial and interior exhibit on DU’s history.
  • In addition to an existing scholarship, we have added two more scholarships for Native American students. One began this past fall, and another will be available in fall 2021.
  • We are establishing a new leadership council comprised of Native and Indigenous DU community members to provide counsel on all our Native and Indigenous initiatives.
  • We have launched a new website to provide a nuanced understanding of DU’s history, as well as our past and present efforts to learn from and reckon with that history.

Dear DU Community Members,

The University of Denver is committed to increasing and improving support for the growing population of Native American and Indigenous students, faculty and staff on campus. Such growth has been the result of intentional efforts undertaken over the past several years. We also reassert our commitment at the heart of the John Evans Committee’s work to publically reckon with the University’s painful history and our founder’s role in the Sand Creek Massacre.

While this work is complex and may often seem frustratingly slow, we consider it essential to the realization of DU’s institutional dedication to serve the public good. As chancellor, I will continue to provide updates on our commitments and efforts to hold ourselves and our community accountable and to ensure the momentum continues.

A working group is leading the memorial and interior exhibit initiatives.

With the Native American Community Advisory Board (NACAB) providing guidance and vital input, we have established a working group to explore potential locations on campus for a Sand Creek Massacre memorial. This group, made up of DU faculty, staff, students, alumni and Native community representatives, will provide intellectual and cultural leadership to help determine the memorial’s eventual design. The intention for this memorial is to honor the lives and communities lost and damaged in the brutal attack and its aftermath, while also serving as a place for learning and healing.

The Sand Creek Massacre Memorial Working Group will also collaborate to determine the location, content and design for a permanent interior exhibit. This exhibit will be an account of DU’s history with specific focus on DU’s relationship with the Native American and Indigenous community. Once complete, DU’s faculty will have access to supporting curriculum as a resource to augment interdisciplinary pedagogies and to use in their classrooms. The group plans to hold its initial meeting during the spring quarter.

Sand Creek Massacre Memorial Working Group

Emily Babb, associate vice chancellor for equal opportunity and Title IX
Kelly Fayard, assistant professor of cultural anthropology
Lissy Garrison, assistant vice chancellor of development
Stevie Tohacheeny Lee, Native American community liaison and program manager
Mo Lotif, manager of strategic initiatives, Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence
Angela Parker, assistant professor of history
Mark Rodgers, university architect
Billy J. Stratton, associate professor of English and literary arts
Nancy Wadsworth, associate professor of political science
Student representative tba
Alumni representative tba
Northern Cheyenne representative tba
Northern Arapaho representative tba
Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho representatives tba

There are now three scholarships available for Native American students who apply to DU.

  • Native American Community Scholarship – A longstanding scholarship, which covers full tuition, room and board and books.
  • Native American Community Tuition Scholarship – A new scholarship, which covers full tuition, available for students enrolling this coming fall.
  • Native American Community Transfer Tuition Scholarship – A new scholarship available to transfer students, which covers full tuition, established this past fall.

Through the community scholarship and the community tuition scholarship, DU currently awards up to $563,000 annually to undergraduate Native American students with financial need. The Native American Community Transfer Tuition Scholarship will award up to $107,000 annually to transfer students. 

For each of these scholarships, recipients are chosen by a committee whose members include Native American and Indigenous community members. Recipients must demonstrate financial need and also a commitment to service and involvement in DU’s Native American community. You can find additional information about these scholarships online.

We are establishing a new leadership council to center the work of our Native American and Indigenous initiatives.

We are establishing a Native American and Indigenous Leadership Council (NAILC) comprised of Native and Indigenous faculty, staff, students and alumni. The council’s members will be at the center of the planning and implementation of DU’s Native American and Indigenous initiatives and will help ensure that the most significant and most culturally appropriate impacts are achieved. 

In addition to their existing responsibilities, the council’s membership will take a leadership role for the benefit of the larger DU community, and we are deeply grateful.

We have launched a dedicated webpage.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has launched a new website that provides a more nuanced understanding of DU’s history and our past and present efforts to learn from and reckon with that history. The site will also contain the most recent updates on our Native American and Indigenous initiatives and announcements on new plans for the future.

We know there is much yet to be done and that this work will not be easy, but I am grateful to all past and current community members working diligently to advance the promises and commitments to the DU community. I will continue to provide regular updates on these and other Native American and Indigenous initiatives.


Jeremy Haefner

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