Naropa University is proud to join many other Universities, The Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities and many local and state governments in honoring Native American Heritage Month in November. This is a time to center the contributions and richness of our original land stewards. And to recognize the role that many of our predecessor institutions played in disrupting the lives and culture of whole nations of Native peoples. Before these lands were even called the America’s, indigenous people from more than 900 tribal nations in both North and South America, created expansive societies, complex trading systems, and developed indigenous scientific methods responsible for agricultural production and ecological balance.
Naropa University’s physical home of our academic and spiritual pursuits resides on the traditional territory of the Hinono’eiteen (Arapaho), Nuu-agha-tuvu-pu (Ute), Tsêhéstáno (Cheyenne), Lakota (Lakota), Ndee (Apache) nations and there are48 contemporary tribal nations that have claims to the land of Colorado.
While land acknowledgment is vital, we believe that as an organization and, in our relationships, it is time to move beyond simple acknowledgments. Naropa aspires to build trusting and reparative relationships that amplify indigenous voices and issues towards planetary healing, justice and equity practices.
Locally in Boulder and statewide, indigenous leaders are urgently working to restate what native voices have been saying for hundreds of years now, that our current ways of doing business are environmentally unsustainable and that we are already in the 11th hour, the final stages of complete climate disaster. The paternal systems are only just starting to realize the failures of colonial westward expansion that lead to the decimation of Native Americans and the environment. In spite of setbacks that Native peoples face they remain resilient and steadfast in their message that the planet is our home and needs meticulous, care to heal from generations of social, political, and ecological trauma.
There are positive trends taking place across our culture that challenges myths and false narratives around indigeneity. Centering, renaming, and retelling the narrative from an indigenous perspective is taking shape across all mediums. In Boulder, the Harvest of All First Nations organization is leading education reform to bring traditional indigenous knowledge into public curriculum. The organization People of the Sacred Land is forging new opportunities for Land Back acquisitions, truth, and restoration. The State of Colorado is currently involved with Native leaders in a movement to rename one of Colorado’s most iconic and highest peaks.
In entertainment and pop culture we are seeing the rise of Native writers, actors, and creators leading the narrative in the critically acclaimed series Reservation Dogs which centers on contemporary Native life contrasting disagreement and humor to tell real-life stories from the reservation. The latest film in the sci-fi action thriller Predator franchise offers a film called Prey that uses the backdrop of an Indigenous heroine from over 300 years ago who makes contact with an alien creature. These stories reclaim the narrative while centering and humanizing the lived experience of Indigenous peoples. In fashion, trends to reclaim ownership of patterns, design, and art are being led by ‘inspired Native’ entrepreneurs and artists.
Ways you can get involved with Native American Heritage Month:
Join Naropa at Beloved Community of Practice Gathering with faculty Instructor Ian Sanderson (Mohawk Turtle Clan) who will present various practices from his own lineage to Re-Indigenize the mind and practices from his course Indigenous Survival Skills.
Watch this recording From Indigenous People Day October 12, 2022. The Story of Sky Woman is the story of the origins of All Our Relations, a story that we know deep in ourselves and our collective ‘beinghood’. Sky Womand & All Our Relations with Loren Intolubee-Chiml (Choctaw)
Watch this short documentary film presented by Harvest of All First Nations, “Voices of the Land” directed by Oscar Pietri B, which speaks about the true story of Boulder lands and the colonization process that it has gone through, narrated by the still existing Indigenous Peoples of this area. Youtube video
The City of Longmont has a sister city relationship with the Northern Arapahoe and invites members from the tribe to lead cultural exchange at several events across the month including Indian Tacos and the importance of Bison 11/19; a film screening at the Longmont Museum on 11/12; and several storytelling events.
Learn more about the ‘Official Renaming Proposal’ of the historic Colorado 14’er by ‘Mount Blue Sky’ in accordance with the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes and links to free webinars on LANDBACK, the Importance of Renaming, the Life and Times of Chief Lefthand Niwot, and more mountbluesky.info/education
Learn about Boulder’s historic Fort Chambers site and what is being done toward the reconciliation of this property in alignment with the Arapahoe and Cheyenne peoples.
Participate in ‘Towards Right Relationship with Native Peoples’, Roots of Injustice Seeds of Change workshop to explore the real history of our country through the voices of Native people, European colonists, and historians to understand why this history matters to all Americans today. Nov. 12th 2-4pm MT online.