Published: Aug. 24, 2022

The University of Colorado Boulder has adopted a land acknowledgment recognizing that Colorado’s flagship campus sits on land that is part of the traditional territories of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute and other Indigenous nations with historic and ongoing ties to the state.

Additionally, the land acknowledgment honors the contributions of all Indigenous peoples with historic ties to Colorado and recognizes the devastating and lasting impacts of the forced removal of tribal nations from their ancestral homelands and their assimilation and confinement on reservations to create what is now the state of Colorado.

The campus land acknowledgment also affirms CU Boulder’s commitment to amplifying the voices of Indigenous students, staff and faculty, integrating Indigenous knowledge into education, research and student success, and working with Native American communities to recruit, retain and graduate Indigenous students.

University of Colorado Boulder Land Acknowledgment

The University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado’s flagship university, honors and recognizes the many contributions of Indigenous peoples in our state. CU Boulder acknowledges that it is located on the traditional territories and ancestral homelands of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ute and many other Native American nations. Their forced removal from these territories has caused devastating and lasting impacts. While the University of Colorado Boulder can never undo or rectify the devastation wrought on Indigenous peoples, we commit to improving and enhancing engagement with Indigenous peoples and issues locally and globally.

We will do this by:

  • Recognizing and amplifying the voices of Indigenous CU Boulder students, staff and faculty and their work. 
  • Educating, conducting research, supporting student success and integrating Indigenous knowledge.
  • Consulting, engaging and working collaboratively with tribal nations to enhance our ability to provide access and culturally sensitive support and to recruit, retain and graduate Native American students in a climate that is inclusive and respectful.

“The campus land acknowledgment will enable students, faculty, staff and others to reflect on the unique histories, cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples who have historic and ongoing ties to the Boulder region and the entire state of Colorado,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “The land acknowledgment also affirms the university’s commitment to supporting Native American students, faculty and staff from Colorado and beyond who come to CU Boulder to pursue their academic goals.”

The land acknowledgment is the outcome of a collaborative process that included input from a campus advisory group representing the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS); the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Council; the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) and other academic and administrative units.

Central to the creation of the land acknowledgment was guidance that campus leadership and staff received from CNAIS students, staff and faculty who serve on the academic center’s executive board and from the center’s external advisory board. The external advisory board, which includes Native American leaders who work closely with CNAIS, recommended that the campus use the statement to guide necessary work moving forward to increase support of Indigenous communities in Boulder and around Colorado.

Andrew Cowell, faculty director of CNAIS, said it was important for CU Boulder to adopt a land acknowledgment that not only recognized the presence of Indigenous peoples in Colorado for millennia but also acknowledged historical inequities, the negative repercussions and a commitment to concrete actions to mitigate these continuing harms.

“This land acknowledgment is a welcome starting point for initiating serious, formal consultation with Native American tribes and communities to jointly explore ways in which CU Boulder can acknowledge our nation’s history and also better support Indigenous peoples and individuals who continue to experience the impacts of the loss of their ancestral homelands to this day,” Cowell said.

Sonia DeLuca Fernández, senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, said it was also critical to include language in the land acknowledgment affirming CU Boulder’s commitment to seeking new ways of supporting current and future generations of Native American students, faculty and staff.

The land acknowledgment is meant to be an iterative guide and work-in-progress to increase support for Indigenous students, faculty, staff and tribal communities with historic ties to Colorado, raise awareness and educate the campus community, she said.

“As we engage in action planning in support of DEI initiatives across the campus, identifying and solidifying our outreach to tribal leaders and communities will become even more of an imperative for CU Boulder,” DeLuca Fernández said. “The land acknowledgment is an initial step in this ongoing process, and I encourage students, staff and faculty to reflect on how best to incorporate these perspectives into their studies, work and campus discussions.”

In late 2020, the CU system adopted a land acknowledgment on behalf of all four campuses. Since then, CU Boulder students, staff and faculty have advocated for a statement specific to the history of the lands on which the state founded the Boulder campus.

Editor’s note: The Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS) website provides information about land acknowledgments, including the CU Boulder Land Acknowledgment, and the brand and messaging webpage includes guidance on how the campus community may incorporate the acknowledgment into email signatures.