Land Acknowledgement Statement

The MSU Denver Department of Art acknowledges that we are located on the unceded territories of Indigenous peoples, that our campus operates on the territories and homelands of the Hinono’ei (commonly known as the Arapaho) and Só’taeo’o and Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) Nations. This area is also the site of trade, travel, gathering, and healing for many other Native Nations including the Lakota, Núuchi-u (Ute), Ka’igwu (Kiowa), Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche), Haisndayin (Jicarilla Apache), and Newe (Shoshone). The establishment of our campus also dismantled the culture, community, and tradition of this place through the displacement of the many Latino/x/a people who lived and worked in the Auraria neighborhood. We respect the many diverse Indigenous peoples connected to this land and value the sophisticated and intricate knowledge systems they have in relationship to this land. By knowing our history, we can better understand our place within it and seek to be in right relationship with the people who were here before us and are here now.

It is our privilege to identify Auraria campus and MSU Denver as a place of learning and inclusion. We collectively understand that offering a Land Acknowledgement neither absolves settler-colonial privilege nor diminishes colonial structures of violence, at either the individual or institutional level. Land Acknowledgements must be preceded and followed with ongoing and unwavering commitments to displaced Indigenous and immigrant communities. As an academic department housing the disciplines of Studio Art, Communication Design, Art Education, and Art History it is particularly important for us to acknowledge the role that institutions of both art and education have at times played in the creation and perpetuation of settler-colonial systems of power, oppression, and disenfranchisement. However, art has also been used as a powerful tool of resistance and resilience, a tradition we seek to uphold and perpetuate. The department actively promotes our own education in the spatial relationships of Indigenous communities to lands both locally and across the globe. We are committed to expanding the art, history, and design expressions of the department with diverse voices and perspectives, including Indigenous and Latino/x/a makers, thinkers, and writers. We recognize there are ways to support Indigenous people today, including through supporting the MSU Denver Indigenous and Native Peoples’ Grant and Displaced Aurarian Scholarship and through local organizations such as the Denver Indian Center and Denver Indian Family Resource Center.

To learn more about the extended history of the land of Auraria campus please reference our extended statement below and visit the exceptional resource

What is an Indigenous Land Acknowledgment and why is it important?

“Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth.”

“Acknowledgment by itself is a small gesture. It becomes meaningful when coupled with authentic relationships and informed action. But this beginning can be an opening to greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationships and reconciliation.”

Source: U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

Extended Land Acknowledgement Statement

Learn More


MSU Denver Resources 

This statement and its history is indebted to the many generations of Indigenous scholars who have safeguarded their history and gifted it to the wider world. Native peoples advocate for the integration of Native perspectives into colonizer history, but with this knowledge comes the responsibility to redress history through actions that support Indigenous people and communities through education, understanding, and healing.

Many thanks to those who offered insight, resources, and feedback on the development of this statement:

Dr. Michael Benitez, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion; Dr. Chalane Lechuga, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies and Diversity Faculty Fellow; Dr. Adriana Nieto, Chair and Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies; Dr. David Weiden, Associate Professor of Political Science and Native American Studies; Jeremy VanHooser, Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Monique Left Hand Bull, Department of Human Services; Dr. Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Writing Center Director, Professor of English; Department of Art faculty and staff; and, past and current Department of Art Land Acknowledgement working group members.

We Invite Comments

To continually reflect upon and evolve the meaning embedded in the statements above, MSU Denver Department of Art invites your feedback.