The City of Boulder has developed a staff land acknowledgment that is based on the city's Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution, and guidance and feedback from American Indian Tribal Nations and the Boulder community.

Project Overview

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

  • Recognizes 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.
  • Encourages 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.
  • Helps inspire community education, reflection and action for Indigenous community members and American Indian Tribal Nations.
  • Continues city work to fulfill the city's Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution and the city’s Racial Equity Plan.

Staff recognize that this acknowledgment – based on the community-developed Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution – will continue to evolve as we work to address the legacy of the violent colonization of Indigenous lands. City staff are also planning to translate the land acknowledgment below into Spanish.

Staff Acknowledgment

The City of Boulder acknowledges the city is on the ancestral homelands and unceded territory of Indigenous Peoples who have traversed, lived in and stewarded lands in the Boulder Valley since time immemorial. Those Indigenous Nations include the: Di De’i (Apache), Hinono’eiteen (Arapaho), Tsistsistas (Cheyenne), Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche), Kiowa, Čariks i Čariks (Pawnee), Sosonih (Shoshone), Oc'eti S'akowin (Sioux) and Núuchiu (Ute).**

We honor and respect the people of these Nations and their ancestors. We also recognize that Indigenous knowledge, oral histories, and languages handed down through generations have shaped profound cultural and spiritual connections with Boulder-area lands and ecosystems — connections that are sustained and celebrated to this day.

The City of Boulder recognizes that those now living on these ancestral lands have a responsibility to acknowledge and address the past. The city refutes past justifications for the colonization of Indigenous lands and acknowledges a legacy of oppression that has caused intergenerational trauma to Indigenous Peoples and families that includes:

  • For more than 10,000 years, generations of Indigenous Peoples have lived and thrived on ancestral homelands that Euro-Americans colonized as Boulder.
  • Indigenous Peoples in Boulder have, as in all parts of the Americas, endured centuries of cruelty, exploitation and genocide.
  • The westward expansion of Euro-American population and culture in the 19th century caused extensive hunger and diseases that devastated Indigenous Peoples’ way of life.
  • In October 1858, Hinono’ei neecee ("Arapaho Chief") Nowoo3 (“Niwot," "Lefthand") told a party of gold-seekers camped in what is now known as Boulder that they could not remain on Indigenous land as defined by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
  • After gold was found west of Boulder in January 1859, many of those same gold-seekers helped found the Boulder Town Company on Feb. 10, 1859, in violation of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
  • By the summer of 1859, thousands of gold seekers were in the Boulder area, and many squatted on Indigenous lands, continuing the dramatic expansion of Euro-American occupation of Indigenous lands that soon exiled Indigenous peoples from the Boulder area.
  • In August 1864, more than 100 Boulder County residents mobilized into Company D of the Third Colorado Cavalry at Fort Chambers along Boulder Creek east of what is now known as Boulder.
  • Company D – which included 46 Boulder men and prominent Boulder County residents – later participated in the barbaric massacre of peaceful Tsistsistas and Hinono’eino’ at Sand Creek on Nov. 29, 1864. Among those killed in the massacre were women, children, elders and chiefs, including Nowoo3 and Tsistsistas Chief White Antelope. Despite having participated in horrific atrocities, members of Company D received a heroes' welcome upon their return home.
  • The city has benefited and continues to benefit directly from the colonization of Indigenous lands and from removal policies that violated human rights, broke government treaties and forced Indigenous Peoples from their homelands.

We must not only acknowledge our past but work to build a more just future. We are committed to taking action beyond these words. We pledge to use this land acknowledgment to help inspire education and reflection and initiate meaningful action to support Indigenous community members and our federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nation partners.

We intend to use this acknowledgment when the City of Boulder develops work plans that guide day-to-day work, begins new projects, starts long-term community plans, and recruits and hires staff.

Let this formal acknowledgment – which honors and builds on the city’s Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution (1190) – stand as a critical step in our work to unify Boulder communities, combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination against Indigenous Peoples.

**Names are based on interviews with Tribal Nation Representatives from June 2021 through February 2022. Please note: The appropriate Kiowa Indigenous name has not yet been obtained from Tribal Representatives. Please see references for the city staff land acknowledgement further down the page.

Reflection and Action

The city recognizes it must take action beyond words. City staff plan to use this acknowledgment to help 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

Steps to Develop the Acknowledgment

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 land acknowledgment that included:

  • Feb. 18, 2021: Consultation Planning Meeting: 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.
  • Feb. 22, 2021: Human Relations Commission Meeting: Staff presented preliminary plans for the acknowledgment and received guidance to solicit community feedback to help inform document language.
  • March 3 – March 24, 2021: Community engagement: The city received community input on themes NOT in the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution that could be considered for the land acknowledgment.
  • April 6, 2021: Boulder City Council Meeting: City staff updated the Boulder City Council about the acknowledgment effort in advance of a consultation with American Indian Tribal Nations the next day.
  • April 7, 2021: City-Tribal Nation Consultation: City staff used community input to create a draft land acknowledgment and received Tribal Representatives' feedback at the April 7, 2021, consultation.
  • Summer 2021: Revisions Following Spring Consultation: The City of Boulder incorporated additional Tribal Nation feedback and additional city historical research into the land acknowledgment.
  • Aug. 3, 2021: Boulder City Council Meeting: City staff provided updates to the Boulder City Council.
  • Oct. 5, 2021: City/Tribal Working Group: City staff presented a revised acknowledgment to a city/tribal working group to help finalize the document – as agreed to at the April 2021 consultation.
  • Oct. 6, 2021 - March 15, 2022: City received additional guidance and feedback on the staff land acknowledgment from Tribal Nation representatives.
  • March 16, 2022: Staff shared the final land acknowledgment in advance of a tribal consultation with American Indian Tribal Nations.

References for Staff Acknowledgement

  • Interviews with Tribal Representatives. June 2021 through February 2022.
  • Coel, Margaret. Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapaho. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), 18-19
  • Crifasi, Bob. A Land Made from Water: Appropriation and the Evolution of Colorado’s Landscape, Ditches, and Water Institutions. (Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 2016), 130
  • Smith, Phyllis. Boulder: From Settlement to City. (Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing, 1981), 12
  • Smith, Phyllis. Boulder: From Settlement to City. (Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Company, 1981), 240
  • Crifasi, Bob. A Land Made from Water: Appropriation and the Evolution of Colorado’s Landscape, Ditches, and Water Institutions. (Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 2016), 130
  • Perrigo, Lynn. A Municipal History of Boulder 1871-1946. (Boulder, Colorado: Boulder Historical Society and the City of Boulder 1946), 4
  • Crifasi, Bob. A Land Made from Water: Appropriation and the Evolution of Colorado's Landscape, Ditches, and Water Institutions. (Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 2016). 131
  • Crifasi, Bob. A Land Made from Water: Appropriation and the Evolution of Colorado’s Landscape, Ditches, and Water Institutions. (Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 2016), 141
  • Crifasi, Bob. A Land Made from Water: Appropriation and the Evolution of Colorado’s Landscape, Ditches, and Water Institutions. (Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 2016), 142
  • Coel, Margaret. Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapaho. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), 280
  • Taylor, Carol. “Boulder County Shares in Sand Creek Massacre Infamy.” Boulder Daily Camera, Nov. 15, 2014, https://www.dailycamera.com/2014/11/15/boulder-county-shares-in-sand-cr…
  • U.S. Congress. Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of War. 38th Congress, 2nd Session, 1865, 5
  • Coel, Margaret. Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapaho. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), 291
  • Kelman, Ari. A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek. (Cambridge, Massachussets: Harvard University Press, 2013), 39
  • Coel, Margaret. Chief Left Hand: Southern Arapaho. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press 2000), 293