7/20/2024 7:27:31 AM
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Report finds Colorado was built on $1.7 trillion of land expropriated from tribal nations

Report finds Colorado was built on $1.7 trillion of land expropriated from tribal nations


Associated Press

A report released this week by a Native American-led not-for-profit takes a look at in information the dispossession of $1.7 trillion worth of Indigenous homelands in Colorado by the state and the U.S. and the more than $546 million the state has actually gained in mineral extraction from them.

The report, shared initially with The Associated Press, identifies 10 tribal nations that have "aboriginal title, congressional title, and treaty title to lands within Colorado" and information the methods the land was lawfully and unlawfully taken. It figured out that a lot of the deals remained in direct infraction of treaty rights or sometimes lacked title for a legal transfer.

" Once we were removed, they just simply began divvying up the land, creating parcels and offering it to non-Natives and other interests and companies," stated Dallin Mayberry, an artist, legal scholar and enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe who participated in the Truth, Restoration, and Education Commission, which assembled the report.

" When you think about examples of land theft," Mayberry continued, "that is one of the most outright circumstances that we might see."

The commission was assembled by People of the Sacred Land, a Colorado-based nonprofit that works to document the history of Indigenous displacement in the state. The commission and its report are imitated comparable truth and reconciliation commissions that sought to comprehensively represent genocide and the people still impacted by those acts and governmental policies.

The report likewise recommends actions that can be taken by the state, the federal government and Congress, consisting of honoring treaty rights by dealing with unlawful land transfers; compensating the tribal nations affected; restoring searching and fishing rights; and imposing a 0.1% charge on real estate deals in Colorado to "mitigate the enduring impacts of forced displacement, genocide, and other historical injustices'"

Mayberry stated. They guaranteed us health and well-being and education, and we just simply want them to live up to those guarantees."

That could look something like what happened recently in Canada, where, following the conclusion of a truth and reconciliation commission in 2015, the government set aside $4.7 billion to support Indigenous communities impacted by its Indian residential schools.

, a person of the Ho-Chunk Nation, would establish a commission to research and document the long-term effects of the Indian boarding school system in the U.S. That measure passed the House Education and Workforce Committee on Thursday with bipartisan assistance.

" The United States carried out a federal policy of genocide and extermination against Native individuals, and their weapon versus our youngest and most susceptible was the policy of Indian Boarding Schools," said Ben Barnes, chief of the Shawnee Tribe, who testified before Congress in support of a commission to investigate the ongoing results of the boarding schools.

" The next step is reconciliation and recovery for the generations who've dealt with the injury that followed, which begins with developing the Truth and Healing Commission to investigate further," Barnes said.

The 771-page report likewise calls on Colorado State University to return 19,000 acres of land that was taken from numerous tribal nations through the Morrill Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, which used expropriated land to develop land grant universities across the country.

In 2023 the university pledged to dedicate $500,000 of the incomes from its land grant holdings. But while the commission applauded that choice, it said "there are questions about its adequacy, given the resources that have been produced by the endowment developed by offering and/or leasing stolen land."

A university representative told AP that the school has actually not had a possibility to examine the report but kept in mind that "that revenue from the endowment land earnings fund is used for the benefit of Native American professors, personnel and students."

The commission likewise found that Native American trainees in Colorado have lower high school graduation rates and higher dropout rates than any other racial demographic. It figured out that state schools teach about Native American issues only once in grade school and then once again in high school U.S. history classes, and it contacted the Colorado Department of Education to increase the amount of its curriculum that focuses on the histories, languages and contemporary cultures of tribal nations that are indigenous to the state.

The education department said in a statement that it is "devoted to elevating and honoring our Indigenous neighborhoods.

" We have actually worked along with tribal agents to develop a culturally affirming fourth-grade curriculum focused on Ute history fourth-grade curriculum and have actually made this offered to our school districts and educators," the statement included.

That academic program is not necessary across Colorado, where curriculum choices are made at the local level.

A 2019 study discovered that 87% of public schools in the U.S. fail to teach about Indigenous peoples in a post-1900 context and that many states make no mention of them in their K-12 curriculum.

" They ought to be an integral part of the curriculum, especially in areas where there's a high percentage of Native Americans," stated Richard Little Bear, former president of Chief Dull Knife College in Montana and a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. "There's got ta be a full scale effort."


Brewer is an Oklahoma City-based member of AP's Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on X at @grahambrewer


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Elwood Hill

Elwood Hill

Elwood Hill is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years' of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, John has worked on a variety of different stories and assignments including national politics, local sports, and international business news. Elwood graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and immediately began working for Breaking Now News as lead journalist.

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