After Tribal consultation, Boulder sets tentative timeline for renaming Settler's Park, approving land acknowledgments

Deborah Swearingen, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
·3 min read

Apr. 9—Boulder on Wednesday had a government-to-government consultation with representatives from Tribal Nations in which the city set a timeline for some of the actions it's been planning since approving the Indigenous Peoples Day resolution in 2016.

Although the consultation occurred via closed meeting, so no Boulder residents or media were allowed in, the city provided a summary of the meeting after it was OK'd by the Tribal representatives.

Boulder has for years been considering new names for Settler's Park. It now intends to announce the chosen name in early May when it formally submits for a name change. Additionally, it will continue working to revise the current city-tribal agreements.

Further, the city announced earlier this year that it planned to work with Indigenous people to craft land acknowledgments that can be read before meetings and used on city websites.

After discussions Wednesday, Boulder set new goals for the effort that include:

* Honoring all Indigenous peoples who have traversed, lived in and stewarded lands in the area since time immemorial.

* Emphasizing that traditions and oral histories still connect Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples with the Boulder area.

* Acknowledging the harm caused by the colonization of Indigenous lands.

* Celebrating the generational knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous peoples.

* Building a foundation to take action for Indigenous peoples now and into the future.

* Addressing the interests of Indigenous community members and federally recognized American Indian Tribes that consult with the city.

* Developing a consistent approach for land acknowledgments across the city.

Boulder has said in the past that it takes time to thoughtfully develop land acknowledgments. After meeting with Tribal representatives, it intends to form a working group to help craft the land acknowledgments and bring it back to Boulder City Council for approval in late summer or early fall.

Advocates have said in earlier interviews with the Camera that land acknowledgments are a first step but must be accompanied by other actions.

The statement released by the city after Wednesday's consultation mentioned something similar.

"The city knows it has much work ahead of it in listening and addressing matters of importance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous community members," the statement reads.

Before the consultation on Wednesday, the Council prepared for the discussion in its regular meeting the night before.

There are 48 tribes with a legacy of occupation in Colorado, though 46 of those have been forcibly removed during the past 150 years, according to Ernest House Jr., senior policy director with Denver's Keystone Policy Center and a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe from southwestern Colorado.

He talked about how important it is for local governments to participate in tribal consultations and to ensure that it's consensus-based decision-making, which is an inclusive, participatory process where all contribute to decisions and proposals.

"You have to ensure that the tribes you're including to the table, you're giving them ... the time to learn about the issue, to provide their thoughts, to provide their feedback," he said. "And that you're not definitely not creating a check-the-box process."

House said it's about creating relationships and recognizing that Tribes are not "stakeholders."

The next Tribal consultation is scheduled for March 2022.