The City of Boulder has been working with American Indian Tribal Nations and the community to develop a land acknowledgment, which will be based on the city's Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution.

Project Overview

The City of Boulder has sought the guidance of American Indian Tribal Nations and the community to develop a formal land acknowledgment that will:

  • Recognize the city is on the vast ancestral homelands and unceded territory of Indigenous Peoples who have traversed and lived in the Boulder Valley since time immemorial.
  • Encourage the Boulder community to reckon honestly with the legacy of American-European colonization of Indigenous lands and a history of removal policies that violated human rights and broke government treaties.
  • Help inspire community education, reflection and action for Indigenous community members and American Indian Tribal Nations.
  • Continue city work to fulfill the city's Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution and the city’s Racial Equity Plan.

As agreed to at the 2021 consultation, the city is inviting Tribal Representatives to participate in a city/Tribal Nation working group to help the city finalize the city’s planned land acknowledgment. The completion of the land acknowledgment continues to take time and may not be finalized until March 2022 – when the plans to host its next consultation with American Indian Tribal Nations.

Reflection and Action

The city recognizes it must take action beyond words. It plans to use this acknowledgment to inspire reflection and action for Indigenous community members and American Indian Tribal Nations when the city:

  • Develops work plans that guide day-to-day city work
  • Begins new projects
  • Starts long-term community plans
  • Hires and recruits people
  • Provides community education programs
  • Plans and conducts City Council and board meetings
  • Communicates with the public
  • Conducts internal staff trainings

Guiding Themes

The city's statement will be based on language in the city's Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution, community input received this spring and Tribal Representatives’ feedback during the city’s April tribal consultation. This collective input has led to content themes that the city plans to include in its planned acknowledgment:

  • Acknowledge Indigenous Peoples who have lived in, traversed and stewarded lands in the Boulder Valley since time immemorial.
  • Recognize Tribal Nations that have agreements with the City of Boulder and have historical connections to Colorado.
  • Honor Indigenous Peoples with their own names and in their own languages.
  • Recognize that knowledge shared over countless generations has shaped enduring cultural and spiritual connections with the land and natural ecosystems.
  • Stress traditions, oral histories and languages that still connect Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples with the area.
  • Identify ways the acknowledgment can initiate meaningful action for Indigenous community members and American Indian Tribal Nations.

The city also plans to include several statements in the acknowledgment to reckon with the past:

  • Refute past justifications for the colonization of Indigenous lands – such as "Manifest Destiny" and the "Doctrine of Discovery."
  • Acknowledge and reckon with Boulder’s past and include statements from the city’s Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution, such as:
    • The City of Boulder recognizes that those now living on these ancestral lands have a responsibility in acknowledging and addressing the past.
    • Indigenous People in Boulder have, as in all parts of the Americas, endured centuries of cruelty, exploitation and genocide.
    • The city has benefited directly from the colonization of Indigenous lands and removal policies that violated human rights and broke government treaties.
    • The Boulder City Town Company was founded by settlers on February 10th of 1859, thereby going against the agreement of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie (also known as the Horse Creek Treaty).
    • In August of 1864, nearly 100 Boulder County residents mobilized into Company D of the Third Colorado Cavalry of U.S. Volunteers at Fort Chambers. This company of 100 men reportedly trained at the fort before participating in the Sand Creek Massacre on Nov. 29, 1864.

Steps So Far

The city appreciates community members who developed the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution and has based its land acknowledgment on their hard work. With the resolution serving as the foundation for a city acknowledgment, city staff has taken several additional steps to develop a city-wide land acknowledgment that included:

  • Consultation Planning Meeting, Feb. 18, 2021: City and Tribal Representatives from federally recognized American Indian Tribes agreed during a Feb. 18, 2021, conference call to discuss a city land acknowledgment at the city/Tribal consultation on April 7, 2021.
  • Human Relations Commission Meeting, Feb. 22, 2021: City staff received guidance from the Human Relations Commission (HRC) on Monday, Feb. 22, to inform the development of the city-wide acknowledgment.
  • Community engagement, March 3 to March 24, 2021: The City of Boulder received community input on themes and ideas NOT in the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution that could be considered for the city’s land acknowledgment.
  • Boulder City Council Meeting, April 6, 2021: City of Boulder staff updated the Boulder City Council about its land acknowledgment effort in advance of a formal consultation with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations the next day.
  • City-Tribal Nation Consultation, April 7, 2021: Tribal Representatives provided feedback on a preliminary acknowledgment – based on the city’s Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution and community input – during an April 7, 2021, consultation. During this meeting, city staff stressed that a draft acknowledgment presented to Tribal Representatives was a just “starting point” and the city was open to continuing feedback.
  • Additional Tribal Nation Feedback, Summer/Fall 2021: The City of Boulder has incorporated additional input received over the summer and during a city/tribal working group in October 2021.