The City of Boulder appreciates the opportunity to engage and consult with Tribal Representatives from federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations.
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), Tsétsėhéstȧhese (Cheyenne), Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche), Caiugu (Kiowa), Čariks i Čariks (Pawnee), Sosonih (Shoshone), Oc'eti S'akowin (Sioux) and Núuchiu (Ute).
The city recognizes that Indigenous knowledge, oral histories, and languages – handed down through generations over thousands of years – have shaped profound cultural and spiritual connections with Boulder-area lands and ecosystems and that those connections are sustained and celebrated to this day. City staff appreciate the opportunity to listen and learn from Tribal Representatives and look forward to ongoing consultations and engagement with Tribal Nations to build and sustain long-term relationships and discuss future collaborative opportunities.
Learn more about the city's ongoing consultation and collaboration work with Tribal Nations through:
- A memo prepared for the Boulder City Council.
- A March 9, 2023, City Council Study Session.
March 2023 Consultation
The consultation was focused on the continued development of an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). City staff and community leaders also participated in site visits to city-managed open space to continue building relationships with Tribal Representatives and help guide future conversations with Tribal Nations. Staff also provided updates on city-Tribal Nation projects, including the Fort Chambers / Poor Farm Property Management Plan and ongoing work to develop an ethnographic-education report with Tribal Representatives.
During a site visit to The Peoples’ Crossing in west Boulder, Tribal Representatives and city staff removed inaccurate and dated signs as part of an ongoing collaborative effort to update Indigenous-related interpretative signage on city open space and continue fulfilling the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution. City staff and Tribal Representatives also visited a Settler’s Park inscription – which has the former name for The Peoples’ Crossing – that remains on a concrete underpass tunnel structure in the area. City staff intend to remove the Settler's Park inscription and replace it with The Peoples' Crossing name.
The City of Boulder extends its gratitude to Tribal Representatives participating in the March consultation, and we look forward to continuing conversations to build and sustain long-term relationships with Tribal Nations.
Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation
Sovereignty for Native peoples has existed since time immemorial, pre-dating the U.S. Constitution. Federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations are sovereign governments, and their special relationship with the United States is recognized under the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders and court decisions. The special legal status of Tribal Governments requires official relations with federal agencies to be conducted on a government-to-government basis.
City staff recognize the importance of respecting and honoring Tribal sovereignty and self-determination and conduct ongoing government-to-government consultations with Tribal Representatives appointed by federally recognized Tribal Nations that have consulted with the city since the late 1990s, share Memorandums of Understanding with the city and have historic and enduring connections to the Boulder Valley. The city invites Tribal Representatives from the following Tribal Nations to ongoing consultations:
- Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
- Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
- Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
- Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
- Eastern Shoshone Tribe
- Jicarilla Apache Nation
- Kiowa Tribe
- 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
The city’s current consultation framework with Tribal Nations is based on:
- Guidance and desires provided by Tribal Representatives during past and ongoing consultations.
- Existing Memorandums of Understandings with Tribal Nations, which were developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
- Federal and State of Colorado consultation best practices and guidelines.
While the City of Boulder has a framework for consultation with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations, city staff also recognize the importance of collaborating with local Indigenous communities and organizations in the Boulder area. Current Tribal consultation does not preclude the city from conducting similar collaboration processes with local Indigenous communities and organizations, and staff recognizes the need to work with regional partners to establish broader, community-wide Indigenous collaboration practices.
Guiding Conversations, Resolutions, Policies and Plans
City consultation practices and collaborative work with American Indian Tribal Nations are also guided by:
Four Memorandums of Understanding with Tribal Nations. These agreements, which focus on city open space, were initially developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Government-to-government consultations with Tribal Nations and statements developed at the end of the consultations (2019, 2021, March 2022, September 2022).
The city’s 2016 Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution. In 2016, the Human Relations Commission and community members developed the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution (Resolution No. 1190), which was presented at the Aug. 2, 2016, City Council meeting and adopted by the Council. The resolution led to the recent renaming of Settler’s Park to The Peoples’ Crossing. It also directs the city to “correct omissions of the Native American presence in public places, resources and cultural programming.” In addition, the resolution directs city staff to implement “accurate curricula relevant to the traditions, history and current issues of Indigenous People inclusive of and as part of our shared history.”
A city staff land acknowledgment based on the city’s Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution and further developed with guidance and input from American Indian Tribal Nations and the Boulder community.
The city’s Racial Equity Plan. It seeks to normalize and operationalize the understanding of institutional and structural racism among people who work for or represent the city, including city staff, City Council, Boards and Commissions, and ongoing program volunteers.
The Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Master Plan, which directs the department to “support citywide efforts to work in partnership with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations and other city departments through formal government-to-government Consultations to help support American Indian Tribes and Indigenous Peoples’ connections to their ancestral homelands.”
Federal (Clinton, G.W. Bush, Obama, and Biden), state of Colorado and federal Tribal consultation guidelines and manuals.
The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, which states that the city follows a government-to-government consultation process with Tribal Nations. The plan also recognizes that meaningful engagement with Tribal Nations needs to also happen at a regional level.
City-Tribal Nation MOUs
The City of Boulder has four Memorandums of Understanding with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations, which were developed during previous consultations during the late 1990s and the early-to-mid 2000s.
1999 Memorandum of Understanding-A. The City and American Indian Tribal Nations agreed to create a spiritual, moral and policy partnership to protect the land south of Boulder.
1999 Memorandum of Understanding-B. The City and Tribal Nations agreed to obtain approval for a city-administered utility easement for an area in south Boulder and to 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 during fire bans.
2002 Memorandum of Understanding. The 2002 MOU provides the critical foundation for the proposed MOU, which has been discussed at city consultations in 2019, 2021 and 2022. The 2002 MOU outlined several city-Tribal Nation agreements regarding cultural resource consultations, Tribal Nation notification of funerary objects and human remains and ceremonial access requiring temporary structures and/or fire.
Amendment to 2002 MOU: The city and Tribal Nations agreed to update the procedures related to ceremonies involving fire and temporary structures – such as tipis and sweat lodges – on Valmont Butte east of Boulder.
Current City-Tribal Nation Projects
Beyond hosting ongoing consultations, city staff are working on several consultation and engagement projects with Tribal Representatives:
Proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The proposed MOU consolidates past City-Tribal Nation MOUs and includes several additions and updates. It seeks to set a foundation for future City-Tribal Nation collaboration and ongoing consultations regarding city-managed open space land. Council will likely be asked to consider a staff recommendation regarding executing the MOU later in 2023.
The Fort Chambers – Poor Farm Property Management Plan. City staff appreciate listening and learning from Arapaho and Cheyenne Representatives who have been providing input for a management plan for the land, which has a direct community connection to the Sand Creek Massacre. We look forward to continuing to listen and learn from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe as part of ongoing efforts to guide the future of the Fort Chambers – Poor Farm property and to reinterpret a highly inaccurate and problematic marker on the property.
Open Space and Mountain Parks has released an inventory report intended to help inform the development of a site management plan for the property in alignment with city open space purposes and guidance from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Please visit the project webpage to learn more.
Tribal Nation Ethnographic-Education Report. City of Boulder staff recognizes the interpretation and educational information describing its history is dominated by American-European perspectives and fails to adequately include Indigenous perspectives. The report will be informed by in-person interviews with Tribal Representatives, and the project team is inviting American Indian Tribal Nations to share stories they want to tell and help communicate their enduring cultural, spiritual and historical connections to the Boulder Valley. The report will help the city and Tribal Nations develop education and interpretation materials that provide accurate, truthful Indigenous Peoples’ stories – both past and present. The report is also intended to help city staff learn more about special areas or types of places of importance to Tribal Nations and help guide future conversations with Tribal Nations. City staff have received permission from Tribal Representatives to release a final report, after approval by Tribal Representatives, in early 2026.
Education/Interpretative Signs on Open Space. Open Space and Mountain Parks and city Communication and Engagement staff are receiving guidance on how to address dated Indigenous-related education/interpretative signs on the city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks system. Recently, city staff received guidance to remove signs in The Peoples’ Crossing area and a sign along Boulder Creek just south of The Peoples’ Crossing, given its location near a remaining Settler’s Park inscription that remains on a tunnel structure in the area. Tribal Representatives suggested their removal given their age, content inaccuracies and the exclusion of Indigenous cultural and spiritual perspectives in their creation. The city anticipates that the ethnographic report and ongoing discussions with Tribal Representatives regarding signs will help city staff build a broader education and interpretative approach across city open space.
Settler's Park Inscription. The City of Boulder renamed Settlers’ Park to The Peoples’ Crossing in 2021 to help fulfill the city’s Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution. While The Peoples’ Crossing name is now reflected throughout city trail and trailhead webpages and appears on Google Maps, Apple Maps and other trail apps, a Settler’s Park inscription on a concrete underpass tunnel structure that connects Eben G. Fine Park and The Peoples’ Crossing area remains. Recently, city staff received guidance from Tribal Representatives to remove the Settler’s Park inscription and replace it with The Peoples’ Crossing name. City staff have begun efforts to replace the inscription, which will require approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
2024 Private and Public Events. Tribal Representatives have provided recommendations for how the city can support events that recognize Tribal Nations’ enduring connections to the Boulder area and celebrate the recent renaming of Settler’s Park in west Boulder to The Peoples’ Crossing. These events are tentatively planned to occur before, after or during a March 2024 consultation. The city anticipates providing updates about these events in fall 2023.
Potential Renamings. As part of ongoing staff learning from Tribal Representatives, staff is receiving feedback that may lead to proposals to rename select open space trails and trailheads to continue fulfilling the Indigenous Peoples Resolution and provide more opportunities for open space visitors to learn Indigenous perspectives and histories.
The City of Boulder’s Human Relations Commission and Office of Arts and Culture also support community programs and events as part of Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations. In 2016, the Human Relations Commission and community members drafted the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution (Resolution No. 1190), which was presented at the Aug. 2, 2016, Boulder City Council meeting and adopted by the City of Boulder.” It declared the second Monday of October of each year to be Indigenous Peoples Day. It also directed staff to receive guidance from Tribal Nations to rename Settler’s Park and begin long-term work to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples in public places and programming. City staff thank Tribal Representatives for participating in 2022 Boulder Indigenous Peoples Day events.
Completed City-Tribal Nation Projects
The City of Boulder has completed two projects with the support and guidance of Tribal Representatives:
Renaming of Settlers’ Park to The Peoples’ Crossing. In 2021, Representatives from American Indian Tribal Nations collaborated with the city to develop the new name to help fulfill the Indigenous Peoples Day Resolution. The Peoples’ Crossing name honors the area as a crossroads for Indigenous Peoples who have traversed and lived in the mountains and plains of the Boulder area since time immemorial. “The People” or “Our People” is how many American Indian Tribal Nations refer to themselves in their native languages. The usage of “Peoples” is also meant to be inclusive of all people who have lived in the Boulder area.
Trailhead and trail signs in the area reflect The Peoples’ Crossing name. The name is reflected throughout city trail and trailhead webpages and appears on Google Maps, Apple Maps and other trail apps. City staff met with Tribal Representatives in early February regarding how to address the Settlers’ Park inscription and received guidance to remove the Settler’ Park inscription and replace it with The Peoples’ Crossing name.
Staff land acknowledgment. City staff sought the guidance of American Indian Tribal Nations and the Boulder community to develop a city staff land acknowledgment. The acknowledgment encourages the city and its staff 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. It also seeks to inspire community education and help initiate community-wide work to help support Indigenous Nations and Indigenous communities and organizations in the Boulder area.
Read the full land acknowledgment online. Staff recognize the acknowledgment may change over the years as city staff and the Boulder community continue to learn about and address the intergenerational trauma caused by the violent colonization of Indigenous lands.
As common with government-to-government consultations, annual City-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. The city recognizes the public interest in citywide consultations with American Indian Tribes, and staff will seek permission from Tribal Representatives to release a final city-Tribal Nation statement to summarize 2023 consultation conversations.
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 is released to the public.