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ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDINGS FOR COLORADO INDIAN EDUCATION CURRICULUM
There is great diversity among tribes in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each tribe has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to the United States. At present, there are 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Over 200 languages are still spoken. Tribal members identify themselves by their tribe. ‘American Indian’ or ‘Native American’ is appropriate when referring to an individual or group. In Colorado there are two federally recognized tribes, the Southern Ute Indian and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribes. These two tribes have reservations in southwestern Colorado.
A reservation is a territory reserved by the federal government for tribes as a permanent tribal homeland. Some reservations were created through treaties while others were created by statutes or executive orders. The present reservations of the Southern Ute Indian and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribes were created by treaty in 1868.
FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES IN COLORADO
Southern Ute Indian Tribe
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe lies to the south and east of Durango, Colorado. The tribal reservation is a checkerboard reservation with tribal member allotments as well as tribally owned land dating back into the early 19th century. The Tribe has 307,838 tribally owned acres. The Tribe has 1,408 enrolled members who reside both on and off the reservation. The tribal administration is located in the community of Ignacio, Colorado. The Tribe has a seven-member council including the Chairman.
The Tribe owns the Growth Fund (Tierra - Real Estate and Construction Companies; Red Willow Oil and Gas Production Company and Red Cedar Oil and Gas Gathering Company), and Sky Ute Casino Resort. The Tribe opened the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum in May 2011. The Tribe is a strong player in the federal legislative energy arena.
The Tribe has strong administrative offices and social programs in place, including Economic Development, Judiciary, Department of Natural Resources, Health Clinic, Social Services, Elder's Center, Montessori Academy and Head Start.
The Tribe is a large employer in region and a large contributor to the regional tax base. It has capitalized on an economic development program that includes:
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe lies within the southwest corner of the State of Colorado. The Tribe has 575,000 contiguous acres, which span into the States of New Mexico and Utah. The Tribe has 2,060 enrolled members who reside both on and off the reservation. The tribal administration is located in the community of Towaoc, Colorado and the White Mesa community is located in Blanding, Utah. The Tribe has a seven-member council including the Chairman.
The Tribe owns the Ute Mountain Casino and Hotel, the Weeminuche Construction Company, a Farm & Ranch Enterprise, a Pottery business and the Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
In 2010, the Tribe was the largest employer in Montezuma County, employing just over 1300 people, which translates to an annual payroll of over $33 Million Dollars.
The Tribe has strong administrative offices and social programs in place, including Economic Development, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency Offices, a Health Clinic, Social Services Department , Head Start Program, a Child Care facility, Community Center, a Cultural Office, Career Center and Tribal Police.
INDIAN POPULATION IN COLORADO NOT RESIDING ON RESERVATIONS
Urban and Rural Indian Population
The 2010 Census Data reports that 56,010 American Indian and Alaskan natives live in the State of Colorado, comprising 1.0 percent of the total population. This represents a 27 increase since the 2000 census and this increasing trend is expected to continue. The cities with the largest populations are Denver and Colorado Springs.
During World War II and the years immediately after the war, American Indians from rural areas, particularly from reservations, moved to cities in search of better opportunities. Selected as one of the initial destination cities for the relocation and employment assistance programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Denver became a hub for American Indian migrants. Although the federal government hoped to assimilate Indian relocatees by distancing them from reservation communities, the Denver American Indians created an urban Indian community to support themselves and showed little interest in losing their tribal or Indian identities.
With Denver’s central location between the desert tribes of the southwest and the plains tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, the metropolitan area has become home to more than 20,000 American Indians. These descendents of the Cheyenne, Lakota, Kiowa, Navajo, and at least a dozen tribal nations are an integral part of the city’s social and economic life. Despite their diversity, they are a tight-knit group, sharing the same strong commitment to family and cultural survival.
Hub of Indian Country
In the far-flung expanse of Indian country, Denver emerged as the informal capital. Denver has the nation's largest concentration of national Indian groups, about 15 associations ranging from the leading Indian law firm to the leading scholarship fund. Propelling Denver to center stage have been the city's neutrality in tribal affairs and its centrality in transportation. Denver is a seven-hour drive from Colorado's only reservations, the two Ute homelands in the State's far southwest corner.
"In the urban Indian political world, Denver is the primary city," Kevin Gover, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said from Washington. Gover, an Oklahoma Pawnee who most recently lived in New Mexico, observed, "If we need a location where we are not favoring one group over another, Denver is neutral ground."
The individual history and circumstances of Colorado’s urban Indian people are as diverse as the people themselves.
STATE BENEFITS EXTEND TO INDIANS
Indians are generally entitled to the same rights and benefits as other U.S. and state citizens. Indians living on tribal lands are residents of the state in which the reservation is located and cannot be denied benefits on the basis of their residence on a reservation. The absence of state jurisdiction to enforce certain laws against Indians or their property (taxation, zoning, etc.) is not a sufficient reason to deny state services to Indians; nor is the availability of federal substitutes a valid reason.
Most Colorado Indian students attend public schools across the state. Indians are legally entitled to public school benefits on the same basis as all other state citizens. A limited amount of federal funding is provided to states for the education of Indian students (Johnson O’Malley Act programs; Department of Education impact aid funding; Indian Education Act funds; Elementary and Secondary Education Act funds for low-income students which includes No Child Left Behind Act; and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds).
Indians are entitled to social security and state welfare benefits on the same basis as all other state citizens. No limitation may be placed on social security benefits because of an Indian claimant’s residence on a reservation. Morton v. Ruiz, 415 U.S. 199 (1974).
Indians are entitled to state health care services on the same basis as all other state citizens. Following Penn v. San Juan Hospital, Inc., 528 F.2d 1181 (10th Cir. 1975), class-action plaintiffs obtained a consent decree enjoining a state hospital practice of denying Indians health care and forcing them to use an Indian Health Service facility.
Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) must be fully available to eligible Indian people, whether or not they are eligible for IHS.
The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (“ICWA”), 25 U.S.C. §§1901-1923, regulates proceedings for termination of parental rights, adoptions and foster care placement involving Indian children. It affords rights to the Indian child, the child’s parents and the child's tribe designed to protect Indian families. The State of Colorado has detailed policies and procedures pertaining to ICWA.
There are many great American Indian leaders. It is important for our children to know about them and their struggle to protect and preserve American Indian life, land base, culture, language and tradition.
The White River War, also known as the Ute War, was fought between the White River Utes and the United States Army in 1879, resulting in the forced removal of the White River Utes and the Uncompahgre Utes from Colorado, and the reduction in the Southern Ute bands' land holdings within Colorado. It was the longest battle fought between an Indian tribe and the U.S. Army. Also, the Sand Creek Massacre occurred on November 29, 1864, when a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia attacked and destroyed a village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory, killing and mutilating an estimated 70–163 Indians, about two-thirds of whom were women and children. Indian leaders at the Sand Creek Massacre included White Antelope, One Eye, Yellow Wolf, Big Man, Bear Man, War Bonnet, Spotted Crow, Bear Robe and Black Kettle. Black Kettle survived.
Chief Ouray (Arrow) (c. 1833–August 24, 1880) was a leader of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute tribe.
Chief Sapiah was the leader of the Southern Ute tribe from 1880 until his death in 1936. He was born around 1840 in the Ute lands before settlements. He was recognized as Chief of the Mauche and Servero Bands and Principal Chief of the Capote. He succeeded Chief Ouray as the official treaty negotiator. He learned English and took the "white man's name" Charles Buck, but he was best known as Buckskin Charley. He led the rescue of women and children who were abducted during the Meeker massacre. In 1890, he was given the Rutherford Hayes Indian Peace Medal by President Benjamin Harrison.
Chief Ignacio (1828–1913) was a chief of the Weeminuche band of the Ute tribe of American Indians. Refusing to have their land broken up, Chief Ignacio and the Weeminuche people moved to the western part of the Southern Ute Reservation in 1896. Their descendants have occupied the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. Their capital is in Towaoc, Colorado.
Chief Jack House was the last traditional chief of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
There is great diversity among individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian. There are 2.3 million American Indians/Alaskan Natives, according to U.S. Census estimates for 1997. They represent only roughly one percent of the U.S. population.
Identity is an issue with which human beings struggle throughout their lifetime. Questions of “Who am I?” and “How do I fit in?” are universal questions of the human condition. Historically, schools have been places for students to explore their identities. However, when the culture of students’ homes and communities is not evident in school, finding a way to belong within that system is more difficult and can lead to frustration. Educators need to ensure that each student has an opportunity to feel included in the classroom either through materials or pedagogical practices.
Even larger issues of “Who is an Indian/Tribal Member?” exist among Indian people themselves. The federal, state and tribal governments may all have their own definitions for who is a member. As a general principle, an Indian is a person who is of some degree Indian blood and is recognized as an Indian by a tribe/village and/or the United States. There exists no universally accepted rule for establishing a person's identity as an Indian because the criteria for tribal membership differ from one tribe to the next. To determine a particular tribe's criteria, one must contact that tribe directly. For its own purposes, the Bureau of the Census counts anyone an Indian who declares to be such.
Amidst all of these issues, educators must remember that Indian students come to school with a variety of backgrounds. There are those who show characteristics of tribal ways of being and belief and those who show themselves to be tribally affiliated, yet do not have what some people might regard as American Indian behavior and appearance. They have differences of skin color, dress, and behavior; and there may be deeper and subtler differences of values and of ways of being and learning.
What is important is that all humans be allowed feelings of integrity and pride connected with who they are and with whom they identify in order to help them develop the self-esteem and self-confidence that will enhance their learning.
“There is no single American Indian learning style, nor is there a group of several styles of learning that fits all American Indians, either as individuals or tribal groups … Teachers should recognize various learning styles and adapt their teaching methods to individual learners. At the same time teachers should build on and expand the individual student’s approaches to learning.” (Cleary and Peacock 154) However, recognizing that teachers must use a variety of teaching methods to meet individual learning styles does not mean that culture doesn’t influence learning styles. The differences in the cultures of home and school certainly impact the teaching/learning process. Classrooms need to integrate culture into the curriculum to blur the boundaries between home and school. Schools need to become a part of, rather than separate from, the communities in which they serve.
The ideologies of Native traditional beliefs and spirituality persist into modern day life as tribal cultures, traditions, and languages are still practiced by many American Indian people and are incorporated into how tribes govern and manage their affairs. Additionally, each tribe has its own oral histories, which are as valid as written histories. These histories pre-date the “discovery” of North America.
American Indian languages, cultures, and traditions are alive and well throughout Indian country. Indigenous languages are still spoken, sacred songs are still sung, and rituals are still performed. It is not important for educators to understand all of the complexities of modern day contemporary American Indian cultures, however, educators should be aware of their existence. They should also understand the ways cultures might influence much of the thinking and practice of American Indians today.
These histories and traditions may be private, to be used and understood only by members of that particular tribe. Educators should be aware of this issue when asking students about their histories, ceremonies and stories. Certain tribes do not discuss deceased relatives.
Educators should also be consistent with policies surrounding “religious/spiritual activities” and ensure that Native traditions and spirituality are treated with the same respect as other religious traditions and spirituality.
Each tribe has a history as valid as any other belief that can be traced to the beginning of time. Many tribal histories place their people in their current traditional lands. For example, educators should respect these beliefs when teaching about “the history of mankind,” particularly regarding the Bering Strait Theory.
Many tribal histories will be told only orally as they have been told and passed down through generations. Some tribes may only tell certain stories during certain times of the year, and this knowledge should be respected in classrooms.
Elders and children are accorded special respect in many tribes. Elders are recognized as the keepers of cherished cultural knowledge, and are honored for the sacrifices they made for the welfare of future generations. Children and youth are understood to be the future leaders who will ensure the continuation of the tribe and its traditions. Extended family, kinship and clan ties are also extremely important in many tribal communities.
Understand that certain objects, such as feathers, beadwork, artwork, medicine bags, etc., may be sacred, and should not be touched. Clothing should be referred to as regalia, not costumes.
Do not take photographs without permission.
In meeting with tribes, listen and observe more than you speak. Learn to be comfortable with silences, or long pauses in conversation. In tribal communities, any interruption is considered highly disrespectful, and may undermine your credibility. Lengthy monologues are not uncommon. Do not check your watch when tribal members are speaking.
The Southern Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes have Annual Bear Dances and Sundances, powwows, fairs and other celebratory activities. The Denver March Powwow celebrating the heritage of American Indians is one of the largest events of its kind in the country. The Powwow features more than 1,600 dancers from close to 100 tribes from 38 states and Canadian provinces. The three-day event in the Denver Coliseum is packed with singing, dancing, storytelling, food, art and more.
Reservations are lands that have been reserved by the federal government for tribes for their own use through treaties, statutes and executive orders and were not “given” to them. The principle that land should be acquired from the Indians only through their consent with treaties involved three assumptions:
Indian tribes hold over 50 million acres of land, approximately 2% of the United States. The largest reservation is the Navajo Nation, which is a large as West Virginia. Some reservations are as small as a few acres, and some tribes hold no land at all.
The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1823 that Indian nations may only cede, sell or relinquish the lands they use and occupy to the U.S. federal government. They may not cede, sell or relinquish the lands they use and occupy to individuals, to states or to foreign governments. Johnson v. M'lntosh, 2 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543 (1823). This was done by treaty through 1871 after which time it was done through Congressional action.
Indian tribes located in the Colorado Territory prior to the passage of the Colorado Constitution in 1876 held large land bases as negotiated through their treaties with the United States. The treaties assigned tribes to certain areas and obligated them to respect the land of their neighbors. However, in the 1860s, as miners and others rushed into the prime gold fields that often lay along or within the designated tribal lands, tribal life was disrupted. The new inhabitants demanded federal protection. These demands resulted in the eventual relocation of the tribes to smaller and smaller reserves.
The federal government and many Colorado citizens did not understand the lifestyles of Colorado’s Indian tribes. Consequently, the tribes were often dealt with from non-Indian expectations and points of view. However, the federal government did understand that these tribal groups were sovereign nations and that they needed to enter into treaty negotiations with the tribes.
MAP OF FOUR CORNER STATES AREA SHOWING UTE INDIAN ABORIGINAL LANDS
The Seven Ute Indian Bands and Original Ute Indian Territory
Mouache Yampa | Capote Grand River | Weeminuche Uncompahgre | Uintah
MAP OF COLORADO SHOWING PRESENT SOUTHERN UTE INDIAN AND UTE MOUNTAIN UTE TRIBE RESERVATIONS (Green dots represent other areas of aboriginal tribal lands.)
1895 through Present-Day Ute Reservations of Colorado
Many non-Indians think that American Indians have “special rights” that no other groups of people get, and they believe that’s not fair to everyone else. What these people don’t understand is that Indians don’t have any special rights because of their race or ethnicity. The so-called special rights stem from the government-to-government relationship between Tribes and the federal government. Those rights are not given to individuals; they’re given to a government. In certain cases, Tribes reserved subsistence rights under treaties to hunt, fish and gather on lands outside of their reservation boundaries, without limitation in time, excepting as Congress might determine. The federal government also promised to provide certain goods and services such as education and health care and to provide for the general welfare of the Tribes. These rights were not “given” to Tribes. They were part of the bargained exchange between a Tribe and the federal government for the Tribe’s cession of lands or the end of warfare.
Under the 1874 Brunot Agreement signed by President Ulysses Grant among the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes and federal government, the Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribes reserved off-reservation treaty hunting, fishing and gathering rights in southwest Colorado, without limitation in time, excepting as Congress might determine. Under the Brunot Agreement, the Tribes ceded 3.4 million acres to the federal government. Retaining off-reservation treaty hunting, fishing and gathering rights in southwest Colorado was part of the consideration in the cession.
The State has a September 15, 2008, Memorandum of Understanding with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe regarding year-round hunting and fishing by tribal members in southwestern Colorado which is in accord with the 1874 Brunot Agreement. The Memorandum of Understanding with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe recognizes tribal and state jurisdiction over hunting of tribal members off-reservation in the Brunot Agreement area and agrees on collaboration.
There were many federal policies, put into place throughout American history that have affected Indian people and still shape who they are today. Many of these policies conflicted with one another. Much of Indian history can be related through several major federal policy periods:
Colonization Period 1492 -
Treaty Period 1789 - 1871
Boarding School Period 1879 - - -
Allotment Period 1887 - 1933
Tribal Reorganization Period 1934 - 1952
Termination Period 1953 - 1967
Self-determination 1968 – current
Colonization Period 1492 -
Treaty Period 1789 - 1871
Allotment Period 1887 - 1933
Boarding School Period 1879 - - -
Tribal Reorganization Period 1934 – 1952
Termination Period 1953 – 1967
Self-determination 1968 – current
Southern Ute Indian children begin attending Colorado public schools in 1920. The curriculum and instruction in public schools was, and continues to be, designed to meet the standards of the state education system. However, the curriculum offered limited information on the culture, history, and traditions of the local tribal groups, and it did not encourage participation from local tribal government officials in its decision-making policies. Now this trend is changing as Indian people become empowered to lead and make decisions about their local schools. Indian people are involved in the system as teachers, administrators, and school board members who are cognizant of the fact that communities and schools must be linked together in order to improve educational outcomes for Indian students.
History is a story most often related through the subjective experience of the teller. With the inclusion of more and varied voices, histories are being rediscovered and revised. History told from an Indian perspective frequently conflicts with the stories mainstream historians tell.
Much of America’s history has been told from the Euro-American perspective. Only recently have American Indians begun to write about and retell history from an indigenous perspective.
A multicultural history curriculum, by focusing on the experiences of men and women of diverse racial, ethnic and religious groups in United States history, will provide students with a historical context in which to situate and understand the experiences and perspectives of these groups in American society today (Mehan, et. al.).
The Southern Ute Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Ignacio, Colorado, is designed to allow the public to “experience the unique history of the Ute people through their eyes.”
Under the American legal system, Indian tribes have sovereign powers, separate and independent from the federal and state governments. However, the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe.
Mark A. Chavaree, Esq., “Tribal Sovereignty,” Wabanaki Legal News, Volume 2, Issue 1, Winter, 1998:
Before colonization, Indian tribes possessed complete sovereignty. However, given the governmental structure of the United States and the complex history of tribal-federal relations, tribes are now classified as domestic dependent nations. This means tribes have the power to define their own membership; structure and operate their tribal governments; regulate domestic relations; settle disputes; manage their property and resources; raise tax revenues; regulate businesses; and conduct relations with other governments. It also means that the federal government is obligated to protect tribal lands and resources; protect the tribe's right to self-government; and provide social, medical, educational, and economic development services necessary for the survival and advancement of tribes.
A very important but often unappreciated point is that tribal sovereignty does not arise out of the United States government, congressional acts, executive orders, treaties, or any other source outside the tribe. As Felix Cohen puts it, “perhaps the most basic principle of all Indian law... is that those powers which are lawfully vested in an Indian tribe are not, in general, delegated powers granted by expressed acts of Congress, but rather inherent powers of a limited sovereignty, which has never been extinguished.” (Cohen 122)
Sovereignty can be defined as “The supreme power from which all political powers are derived.” It is inherent --- it cannot be given to one group by another. In government-to-government negotiations, states and Indian nations exercise or use their sovereign powers.
“Sovereignty ensures self-government, cultural preservation, and a people's control of their future. Sovereignty affirms the political identity of Indian Nations --- they are not simply a racial or ethnic minority.” (Chavaree)
In general, Tribes have typical governmental authority like making laws, taxing, determining who is a member of their tribe, holding elections, setting up police forces, establishing tribal court systems, zoning, building codes, business licensing, environmental controls, hunting and fishing, traffic rules, health requirements, etc.
There are many Indian resources, organizations and businesses in Colorado.
Southern Ute Indian Tribe: Growth Fund (Tierra - Real Estate and Construction Companies; Red Willow Oil and Gas Production Company and Red Cedar Oil and Gas Gathering Company), and Sky Ute Casino Resort. The Tribe opened the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum in May 2011.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe: The Tribe owns the Ute Mountain Casino and Hotel, the Weeminuche Construction Company, a Farm & Ranch Enterprise, a Pottery business and the Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
State: Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs
Centers: Denver Indian Center, Colorado Springs Indian Center
Health: Colorado American Indian Health Council Inc., Denver Indian Health and Family Services, Denver Indian Family Resource Center, Native American Cancer Research, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus Colorado School of Public Health, Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition, Inc., White Bison Center for Wellbriety Movement
Education: American Indian College Fund, Colorado Indian Education Foundation, Title VII Indian Education Program Coordinators
Business: Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce, Native American Bank, First Nations Development Institute, Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT)
Law: Native American Rights Fund, National Indian Law Library
The following link will take you to a Comprehensive Resource Directory for Colorado which includes American Indian resources and organizations contact and services information.
Chavaree, Mark A. Esq., “Tribal Sovereignty,” Wabanaki Legal News, Volume 2, Issue 1, Winter, 1998.
Cleary, Linda Miller and Thomas Peacock. Collected Wisdom: American Indian Education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998.
Cohen, Felix S. Ch. 7 “Sect. 1, Introduction - The Scope of Tribal Self-Government.” Handbook of Federal Indian Law. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1945. 4th Printing. See: http://thorpe.ou.edu/ Cohen’s Handbook. p 122.
Echohawk, John E. “From the Director’s Desk.” Justice Newsletter. 2000. See: http://www.narf.org/pubs/justice/2000fall.html
Mehan, Hugh, et al. "Ethnographic Studies of Multicultural Education in Classrooms and Schools.” Handbook of Research on
Multicultural Education. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1995. p 133.
Skinner, Linda. “Foreword: To a Future Free of Bias.” A Critical Bibliography on North American Indians, for K-12. Anthropology Outreach Office, Smithsonian Institution, 1996. See at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/anthro/outreach/Indbibl/
State of Montana, Office of Public Instruction, Indian Education for All