Editor’s note: This article has update to clarify the tribes that first lived in the Boulder area. The city website also is being update to reflect this.
Boulder is working with Tribal Nations to develop land acknowledgments that can be used at meetings and on city websites.
A land acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous people as traditional stewards of the land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous people and their traditional territories, according to information from Northwestern University.
The city is planning a consultation with Tribal Nations in April in which it plans to seek guidance on its plan to craft land acknowledgments. Additionally, Boulder at that time plans to continue discussions about updating agreements that the city shares with 13 Tribal Nations and to obtain final recommendations for renaming Settlers Park in west Boulder.
Phillip Yates, city spokesperson, said Boulder City Council’s recent adoption of its inaugural racial equity plan inspired action but that developing land acknowledgments is part of building on the city’s Indigenous Peoples Resolution, passed in 2016.
That resolution states that “we have a shared responsibility to forge a path forward to address the past and continuing harm to Indigenous Peoples and the land.”
According to the city, the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Ute tribes were among the many Indigenous people who first lived in the Boulder area. Boulder respects tribal sovereignty and self-determination, shares agreements with 13 Tribal Nations and invites Tribal Governments to participate in government-to-government consultations when city actions affect their interests, according to a news release.
As such, Yates said it’s important that Indigenous people weigh in on the proposal.
“We want to make sure that what we do is done with respect and honor, and that’s why we’re taking this step to seek their guidance on this moving forward,” he said.
Interim City Manager Chris Meschuk expressed similar sentiments in a city news release.
“The city extends our gratitude for the opportunity to listen and learn from Tribal Nations who consult with the city and whose traditions, histories and languages still connect them with Boulder and other Colorado lands,” Meschuk said in the release.
For those crafting land acknowledgments, the Native Governance Center offers a number of tips such as:
- Start with self reflection.
- Do your homework.
- Use appropriate language.
- Use past, present and future tenses.
- Land acknowledgments shouldn’t be grim.
The city is accepting community input about this work on BeHeardBoulder through midnight March 23. To share thoughts visit bit.ly/3rkFGuC.
There is no set timeline for enacting land acknowledgments. Yates said it could take some time considering Tribal Representatives coordinate with federal, state and local agencies across the country.