Denver Art Museum Native American Art

Learn about the history and culture of Denver and Colorado before you attend the 2022 Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC), March 14-16. Postcards from Denver are presented by the CLEC Host Committee.

Arapahoe Street in DenverThis post is an excerpt from the American Library Association’s Indigenous Tribes of Colorado.

The land that Denver sits on originally belonged to the Arapaho tribe, as laid out in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. When gold was discovered in the late 1850s, white settlers arrived in the area in large numbers and began asserting their right to the land, leading to the Treaty of Fort Wise in 1861 and cessation of land by some tribal leaders. In 1864, the Sand Creek Massacre resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Arapaho and Cheyenne people, and soon after these nations would be relocated out of Colorado.

Other indigenous nations native to Colorado include the Apache, Comanche, Shoshone, and Ute. The latter includes the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, federally recognized tribes that have their current headquarters in Ignacio, Colorado, and Towaoc, Colorado, respectively. These groups have historically lived in the southern and western portions of the state.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Denver was one of nine federal relocation sites, part of an effort to promote assimilation by moving American Indian peoples from reservations to urban centers across the United States. As a result, approximately 7,000 people identifying as American Indian/Alaska Native reside in Denver today, making up just over 1 percent of the city’s population. Denver’s indigenous history is highlighted at the Denver March Powwow, a three-day event held each March since 1984. The event features over 1,600 dancers from various tribes in the United States and Canada.

For Colorado as a whole, the number of American Indian/Alaska Native residents is approximately 50,000, representing just under 1 percent of the state’s population.

Register for CLEC 2022 by January 14 and save $100 off the regular registration rate.



Photo credits:
Native American art at the Denver Art Museum (top): Wally Gobetz, flickr
Arapahoe Street: Billy Hathorn