The need to sustain the Comanche language and culture has always been at the heart of Justin Boos’ 20-plus-year career working with and for Native American tribal members.
Forever focused on education equity, Boos has been a director for Comanche Nation Workforce program, an Education Specialist for the Comanche Nation Office of Higher Education, a middle school teacher, and a leader of Upward Bound programs at Fort Lewis College, Cameron University and CU Boulder. A national program, Upward Bound at CU Boulder serves Native and Indigenous students from over a dozen tribal communities across the United States.
My experiences within the CU Boulder EFPP program helped make me aware of how the standard American public-school curriculum has maintained race, class, and gender divisions within society through the use of the hidden curriculum. As a result, I have used the knowledge gained from the program to help establish a tribally controlled charter school in southwestern Oklahoma that will attempt to decolonize Native American education by promoting Comanche culture and language."
“My experiences within the CU Boulder EFPP program helped make me aware of how the standard American public-school curriculum has maintained race, class, and gender divisions within society through the use of the hidden curriculum,” Boos said.
“As a result, I have used the knowledge gained from the program to help establish a tribally controlled charter school in southwestern Oklahoma that will attempt to decolonize Native American education by promoting Comanche culture and language.”
Today, Boos is a co-founder of the Comanche Academy, a culturally responsive tribal charter school in his home-state of Oklahoma. He currently serves on the board of the academy and the Comanche Nation Prevention and Recovery Indigenous P.O.W.E.R. Program, and campaigned for the position of Tribal Administrator during the Comanche Nation General Election in the fall of 2020.
Boos brought all of these experiences and more to his education coursework to the benefit of his peers and the program. He drew from his collaborative work with Comanche Academy to become a leader in class discussions and activities, and he regularly shared how decolonizing theories of education helped him be a stronger advocate for tribal education for the Comanche community and beyond.
“Justin has been a standout contributor in our program,” said Kevin Welner, Terri Wilson, and the EFPP faculty members who selected Boos for the 2021 Outstanding Graduate Award in Educational Foundations, Policy and Practice. “He enriched our collective learning by sharing valuable insights from his ongoing community engagement work in his home state of Oklahoma.”
His professors also commended Boos for incorporating this work and framing into his innovative capstone project, which explored how the Comanche Academy school might be equally accountable to Comanche tribal leaders and traditional educational entities.
Now, nearly 15 years since he first enrolled in the Educational Foundations, Policy and Practice program, Boos’ advice for incoming students and education leaders is not to wait to enroll in graduate studies, because of ever increasing family responsibilities. And yet, he is proud of his newly minted master’s degree and its promise for his people, principally his nine-year-old daughter, Kinzee Nokona Boos.
“It took me 15 years to complete my degree, primarily because of the care I had to provide for both my elder mother and pre-adolescent daughter, but it is my hope that earning a master’s degree from CU Boulder will motivate my 9-year-old daughter to pursue higher educational opportunities after high school,” Boos said.
“Also, I plan on utilizing my master’s degree to continue to help the Comanche nation progress, both socially and economically.”