Celebrate Native and Indigenous Heritage Month
Metropolitan State University of Denver resides on the ancestral lands of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Sioux, and Ute people, all of whom still are in an ongoing relationship with this land. One of the ways we fight the erasure of Indigenous peoples is by recognizing the history that brought settlers, whether voluntary or formerly enslaved, to occupy this land. Here, that history is the Colorado Gold Rush of 1858 and 1859, where settlements like Auraria and Denver as well as other land grabs for gold mining that devastated the land and interrupted Ute and Cheyenne ways of living. Over the course of the next 20 years and the next rushes to take silver from the ground, the Cheyenne and Ute were displaced from this area, their homeland. By knowing this history, we can better understand our place within it and seek to be in the right relationship with the people who were here before us, and with the lands we, too, must steward in our work.
In recognition of Native Indigenous Heritage Month in November, the Center for Equity and Student Achievement (CESA), the Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion (CMEI), MSU Denver’s Lacrosse Club, and the University of Colorado Denver Center for Identity and Inclusion (CII), will be hosting a variety of events to educate the campus on issues that are pertinent to the Native Indigenous communities. It is especially important to understand that Native Indigenous communities still exist and with your support, their voices can be centered and heard. Join us, to dispel preconceived notions of indigeneity and to better understand indigenous intersectional identities.
All Events are Open to the Auraria Campus and Community!
Native Indigenous Heritage Month Kick-Off: Understanding the Indian Child Welfare Act
Thursday, November 2nd | 11:30AM – 1PM | St. Cajetan’s
We would like to invite you to a thought-provoking and engaging panel discussion hosted by the Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion (CMEI), in collaboration with The Center for Equity and Student Achievement (CESA) and The University of Colorado Denver’s Center for Identity and Inclusion. Join us for an enlightening conversation featuring esteemed guests: Colorado Senator Jesse Danielson, accomplished Attorney Lisa Shellenberger, Sheldon Spotted Elk, a respected advocate, and Community Activist Donna ChrisJohn.
This insightful panel will delve into the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our distinguished panelists will provide diverse perspectives and expertise on this pivotal legal matter, shedding light on its significance for our communities and the broader landscape of justice and equity.
Women and Gender Equity Leadership Summit
Friday, November 3rd | 10AM – 4PM | St. Cajetan’s Church
The annual Women and Gender Equity Leadership Summit sponsored by CMEI, GITA, The Phoenix Center, LGBTQ Resource Center, and CU Denver. The theme this year is “Booked, Banned, Bodies, Choices” which discusses and addresses the recent disheartening events including, but not limited to legislation of ideologies, banning discussion and education about identities, and limitation on choice in healthcare, housing & employment.
The Summit will provide an array of dialogic sessions and skill-based workshops that aim to empower, advocate, and develop a more just understanding of inequities that affect women and gender-expansive individuals, and is open to students, staff, and faculty who want to develop in their practice with inclusive action, critical thought and inquiry.
Lunch & Learn: Indigenous Origins of Lacrosse w/ Clark TallBull & Shootaround w/ Lacrosse
Monday, November 6th | 11 – 1PM | TBD
Come join the Center for Equity and Student Achievement and the Lacrosse Athletics team for an educational conversation about the history of the sport Lacrosse in collaboration with the lacrosse team at MSU Denver and the Native-Indigenous student support initiatives.
Drag Bingo with Special Guest Buffalo Barbie
Wednesday, November 15th | Noon – 1PM | Tivoli Garage Lounge 257
Step into the world of cultural discovery and entertainment as the Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion, in collaboration with the Center for Equity and Student Achievement and the University of Colorado Denver’s Center for Identity and Inclusion, invites you to an exciting game of Bingo with a twist! Join us for a delightful afternoon of Bingo, where you’ll not only have fun but also gain a deeper understanding of Native Indigenous cultures and traditions, all hosted by the captivating Buffalo Barbie.
Sand Creek Massacre Awareness and Educational Discussion
Thursday, November 30th | Noon – 1PM | JSSB 400
Please join the Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion, The Center for Equity and Student Achievement, and The University of Colorado – Denver’s Center for Identity and Inclusion for an educational discussion on the Sand Creek Massacre.
Buffalo Barbie, aka Travis, is a two spirit, Diné man and an advocate for LGBTQ rights within the Native American community. He reigned as 2019’s Miss Montana Two Spirit and used this title as a platform to speak to other Indigenous people on the blessing of being a two-spirit person. The term “two spirit” derives from traditional philosophies of gender-defined spaces: a male and female universe, a male rain and a female rain, Father Sky and Mother Earth, etc. It is believed that among these spaces some people are born with the gift of walking between both these identities and offering value of both worlds.
Clark TallBull is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe from Montana. He is the owner and president of TallBull Moving Company in Denver, CO. He was introduced to Lacrosse through a high school teammate in 1986 and immediately fell in love with the game and became passionate about learning and sharing its origins. In 1994 he founded the Native Lacrosse Youth Program in Denver. He served on the Colorado Lacrosse Foundation board for over 10 years and has over 25 years of coaching/teaching experience.
Tallbull regularly speaks to non-Native programs about the responsibility to learn the game’s strong roots and to always be inclusive. Clark has worked with the Iroquois Nationals Program for many years, and he was the team liaison for the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships. He also served as the Lacrosse Director for the 2006 Indigenous Games.
Clark continues to grow the game throughout Indian Country through Ska’Dah Lacrosse and Thompson Brothers Lacrosse. Currently, he is building a youth Lacrosse program with the Denver Indian Center and the American Indian Academy of Denver.
Education is not only a passion but a purpose for Donna. She is an Indigenous Education Consultant (Inyan Consulting) and has been presenting the Indigenous perspective to schools and organizations for over 40 years. Donna is a 2021 Moonshot EdVentures fellow. Education is not only a passion but a purpose for Donna. She is an Indigenous Education Consultant (Inyan Consulting) and has been presenting the Indigenous perspective to schools and organizations for over 40 years. Donna is a 2021 Moonshot EdVentures fellow; Donna ChrisJohn is a citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and a descendant of the Dine Nation.
Senator Jessie Danielson represents District 22 in the Colorado State Senate, located in Jefferson County, serving in her second term.
Lisa R. Shellenberger is a Managing Partner at the Denver-based law firm of Setter Roche Smith & Shellenberger, LLP, and she is a multi-term Appellate Judge for the Havasupai Court of Appeals located in the tribal community of Supai, Arizona.
Sheldon Spotted Elk works as the Senior Director of Judicial and National Engagement at Casey Family Programs. He has a background and presents regularly on tribal law, child welfare and the ICWA.
Want to Learn More?
To build and strengthen ties to the Native and Indigenous communities within Denver, please visit and support the following organizations and resources below:
Support MSU Denver’s Native Indigenous Student Alliance (NISA) in future events.
Denver Indian Center: A non-profit dedicated to supporting the elders and youth of Denver.
Denver March Powwow: one of the many Native Indigenous sponsored events in Denver.
Four Winds American Indian Council: organization dedicated to strengthening and empowering a resilient Indian community in metropolitan Denver.
Spirit of the Sun: founded on the belief that effective and sustainable development work recognizes the intersections of culture, community, economy, health, and that true success is only possible through collaboration.