The City of Boulder conducts government-to-government consultations with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations.

2022 Consultation

The City of Boulder held a formal government-to-government consultation with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations on March 16, 2022. The city was committed to hosting a safe and productive consultation and decided to host a virtual, one-day consultation. In-depth information about the consultation, along with information about other city Indigenous Peoples projects, was included in a memo for a Feb. 22, 2022, study session.

he City of Boulder recognizes the public interest in its government-to-government consultations with Tribal Nations. However, the consultation was closed to the public to facilitate government-to-government negotiations that may include sensitive topics. The city has received permission of Tribal Representatives to publish a final summary of the consultation.

What is Tribal Consultation?

Federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations are sovereign governments recognized under the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders and court decisions.

Tribal consultation is broadly defined as a process of meaningful government-to-government communication and coordination between U.S. government agencies and tribal governments before an agency takes actions or implements decisions (“undertakings”) that may affect tribes or tribal interests. Federal consultation practices have been established as federal government policy in several presidential directives (Clinton, G.W. Bush, Obama, Biden). Numerous states and municipalities have also sought to include input from Tribal Governments when their actions are thought to affect tribal interests.

The City of Boulder respects and honors American Indian Tribal sovereignty and self-determination and conducts government-to-government consultations with federally recognized Tribal Nations that share agreements with the city. The city follows federal and state consultation guidelines and guidance for consultations with Tribal Nations, including those that share agreements with the city. It also bases its consultation practices on direction and wishes provided by Tribal Representatives during ongoing consultations. City consultation with federally recognized American Indian Nations is also guided by the State of Colorado Tribal Consultation Guide prepared by the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

The city’s consultation framework with American Indian Tribal Nations is based on the agreements the city shares with Tribal Nations, discussions with Tribal Representatives and guidelines established by the federal government and the state of Colorado. The city recognizes and understands that it needs better standard practices to collaborate with local Indigenous community members on a broader, community-wide basis.

Consultation Partners

The City of Boulder invited these American Indian Tribal Nations to participate in a March 2022 consultation:

  • Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
  • Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  • Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
  • Eastern Shoshone Tribe
  • Jicarilla Apache Nation
  • Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
  • Northern Arapaho Tribe
  • Northern Cheyenne Tribe
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
  • Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation

City-Tribal Nation Agreements

The City of Boulder has four agreements with 13 federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations, which were developed during previous consultations during the late 1990s and the early-to-mid 2000s. Broadly, these agreements recognize tribes and the city had common interests, including:

  • Preserving open space and cultural resources on city land.
  • Providing opportunities for ceremonial practices on city open space.
  • Notifying tribes if Native American cultural resources are inadvertently discovered on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) land.  

The four agreements the city currently has with American Indian Tribal Nations are:

  • 1999 Memorandum of Understanding-A: The City of Boulder and American Indian Tribes agreed to create a spiritual and moral partnership for the protection of open space.
  • 1999 Memorandum of Understanding-B: The City of Boulder and American Indian Tribes agreed to obtain approval for a city-administered utility easement for an area at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and provide for a tribal monitor during then-proposed, ground-disturbing work. The city also agreed to provide reasonable fire protection services for permitted tribal cultural use of a protected area at NIST during fire bans.
  • 2002 Memorandum of Understanding: The City of Boulder and 13 Native American governments agreed to numerous provisions, which included: ​
    • That Tribal representatives would agree to provide cultural-resource evaluation and advice in support of open space acquisitions.
      • That Tribal representatives and the city agree to ongoing consultation about cultural resources on city Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) land.
      • That the City of Boulder agrees to, subject to annual appropriations, to host an annual consultation with the representatives in Boulder to facilitate an ongoing consultation contemplated by the agreement.
      • That members of the signatory tribes need no prior permission for pedestrian use of OSMP land.
      • That permitted ceremonies on OSMP land requiring fire and/or the building of a temporary structure, such as a sweat lodge or tipi, do require permission from the city and notice of such an event 30 days in advance of it occurring.
      • That bicycle and pedestrian trails, parking lots, plowing or cultivation or any mineral extraction, to the extent of city mineral ownership, on the city's Jewel Mountain property shall be reviewed by the Tribes prior to authorization by the city.
      • That inadvertent discovery of American Indian Resources on OSMP land, including funerary objects and human remains, shall be reported to the Tribes and protected by the city until they can be reviewed by Tribal Nations.

City Consultation History

Consultations resulted in agreements in the late 1990s and early 2000s

The City of Boulder currently has four legal agreements with 13 federally recognized American Indian Tribes. These agreements resulted from formal city-tribal consultations between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s. Consultations initially began because of issues related to the construction of a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) building in the 1990s. These conversations resulted in a 1998 Memorandum of Agreement between the federal government and the tribes.

That agreement, among other things, protected part of the property from development and allowed members of federally recognized tribes to conduct ceremonies at the site. The city also assumed responsibility for overseeing a conservation easement designed to protect the undeveloped portions of the NIST property. After 1998, the city continued to consult with the tribes independently, and later agreements recognized that the tribes and the city had common interests in:

  • Preserving open space and cultural resources on city land.
  • Providing opportunities for ceremonial practices on city open space. Establishing yearly government-to-government consultations when financially feasible
  • Notifying tribes if Native American cultural resources are inadvertently discovered on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) land.

Recent consultations

Regular consultations between the city and Tribal Nations paused in the mid-to-late 2000s. The city’s adoption of the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution in 2016 – which directed the city to receive input from Tribal Nations to rename Settler’s Park – and staff’s desire to re-establish relationships with Tribal Nations led the city to host a consultation with American Indian Tribes in Boulder in March 2019. The city recognizes the benefits the consultation process has in deepening relationships with Tribal Nations and understands it needs to sustain ongoing consultations in the future.

  • March 16-17, 2019: The consultation ended with the City of Boulder and Tribal Representatives determining that current agreements need to be updated. There was also agreement that a working group should be established to draft agreement updates that would be discussed at a March 2020 consultation meeting. Read final statement from the 2019 consultation.
  • March 2020: This in-person consultation was postponed because of COVID-19.
  • Feb. 18, 2021: City staff held an informal conference call with Tribal Representatives to hear their preference for formal government-to-government consultations with the City of Boulder during 2021. During the meeting, city staff and Tribal Nations agreed to conduct an online consultation in April 2021 to discuss updates to city/tribal agreements, a final renaming recommendation for Settler’s Park (now The Peoples' Crossing) and a land acknowledgment.
  • April 7, 2021: Read a final statement from the consultation. Tribal Representatives and the city agreed to:
    • Meet again for consultation in 2022, hopefully in-person.
    • Rename Settler’s Park in west Boulder to The Peoples’ Crossing.
    • Continue making progress on revising current city-tribal agreements. During the consultation, the city and Tribal Representatives recognized the importance of ceremonial access on city Open Space.
    • Collaborate with a city/Tribal Nation working group to develop education and interpretation materials for The Peoples Crossing and help finalize a draft land acknowledgment.

Community Participation

As common with government-to-government consultations, the City of Boulder-Tribal consultations are typically closed sessions in order to facilitate conversations among city staff, Tribal Representatives and elected and appointed community leaders. Those conversations may include sensitive topics, such as sacred traditions and stories, along with the location of Native American cultural resources.

However, the city recognizes the public interest in citywide consultations with American Indian Tribes. Staff seek permission from Tribal Representatives to develop a joint city-tribal statement at the end of each consultation. City staff create these collaborative statements in partnership with Tribal Representatives. When in-person, there is also an effort to provide community members the opportunity to attend pre and post consultation discussions, such as the opening and closing sessions.

Consultation Final Statements

The City of Boulder requests the permission of Tribal Representatives to prepare and review a public statement that summarizes consultations conversations before it released to the public.