Land Acknowledgement

Haseya Advocate Program partnered with photographer Mike Pach for the Springs Sesquicentennial photo project: “Then and Now”

This land acknowledgement and history was compiled by Haseya Advocate Program, shared here with permission.

We acknowledge that the land on which the City of Colorado Springs stands is the homeland and unceded historic territory of many Native American Nations. The very founding and development of our city was in direct violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The Nuuchiu (pronounced New-chew, meaning “the People”), or the Utes, are the longest continuous Indigenous inhabitants of what is now Colorado.

According to Nuuchiu oral history, they have no migration story and their people have been here since time immemorial. According to the oral history of the Kapuuta (Kah-poo-tah) and Mouache (Mow-ah-ch), two of the twelve historic bands within the Nuuchiu Nation, Pikes Peak is one of the places where the Creator placed their Ancestors.

A minimum of 48 federally recognized Sovereign Nations that include the Kiowa, Jicarilla Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho also all have historic ties to this place and continue to foster their relationships with this land. We recognize that members of these tribes remain the dedicated stewards of their sacred homelands; to include the land, water, plants, and animals that call this place home. We acknowledge that Indigenous people continue to contribute to the existing culture of the Pikes Peak region as there are currently members of over 100 tribal nations living and thriving here today.

Acknowledging the events of the past, even when painful, is crucial in honoring the truth of our collective histories and demonstrating our respect for the original inhabitants of modern-day Colorado Springs, their ancestors, and their future generations. By taking the time to consider the violence, displacement, forced migration, and settlement that has brought us together today, we can continue to uncover the truth of the past and work toward the recognition and abatement of ongoing colonialism throughout the Native lands that make up North America. We must also refute the colonized notion of manifest destiny when discussing our nation’s history of westward expansion.

Many of the early founders of our community – AJ Templeton, Irving Howbert, Anthony Bott, John Wolfe, and many others were members of the 3rd Colorado Calvary (made up primarily of men from El Paso and Pueblo counties) which camped in what is now Old Colorado City prior to participating in the Sand Creek Massacre which resulted in the murder of hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho people, mostly women and children. These men’s names are still honored throughout our community as their lasting legacy of violence.

This Land Acknowledgment must be more than a symbolic gesture of simply addressing our past but will represent the City of Colorado Springs’ commitment to our ongoing future relationships by continuing to consult with tribal governments, evaluating Indigenous representation throughout our city, and shedding light on our own difficult history.

• 1598- Conquistador Juan de Oñate founded an extensive Spanish territory parts of which included
modern-day Colorado
• 1820- Edwin James is credited as the first person to ascend Pikes Peak but Nuuchiu Ancestors were the
first to summit Tava-kaavi. To honor the cultural significance of Tava-kaavi, Nuuchiu spiritual practitioners
maintain the tradition of visiting the summit and making offerings and prayers at certain times of the year.
• 1849- Treaty of Abiquiu was to guarantee free passage of US citizens through Ute Territory, along with
military posts and Indian agencies of Ute lands, promised annuities and protection against depredations by
US citizens
• 1851-Treaty of Fort Laramie grants the Cheyenne and Arapaho the lands between the Arkansas and North
Platte Rivers (including most of the Colorado Front Range) in exchange for allowing safe passage to
settlers along the Oregon Trail.
• 1858-Beginning of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush
• 1861 -Fort Wise Treaty establishes a reservation for the Cheyenne and Arapaho along the Arkansas River
in eastern Colorado and cedes most of the Front Range to the United States, although only 10 Cheyenne
and Arapaho signed it and many would later say they did not understand the terms, and did not intend to
cede the lands granted them under the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty. No Northern Arapaho signed this treaty
which was confirmed in 1960 by the Indian Claims Commission. The majority of the Cheyenne and
Arapaho did not move to the reservation, and conflicts between white settlers and Indigenous people
continued, ultimately leading to the Sand Creek Massacre.
• 1863- Conejos Treaty forces the Tabeguache band of Utes to relinquish claims to all lands east of the
Continental Divide to include the Front Range. The U.S. government designates Ouray as the de facto
leader of all Utes. No other bands of Ute signed this treaty.
• 1864-Governor Evans Proclamation providing permission to kill all “hostile Indians” is issued. This
proclamation has yet to be rescinded in 2021.
• 1864- Sand Creek Massacre 675 volunteer soldiers attacked and killed hundreds of Cheyenne, mostly
women and children. Many of these soldiers were from the 3rd Colorado Cavalry. Before departing, the
troops burned the village and mutilated the dead, carrying off body parts as trophies.
• 1865- Little Arkansas Treaty displaces Cheyenne and Arapaho to Oklahoma. This treaty was later amended
to include the Jicarilla Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Nations.
• 1868- Ute Treaty of 1868 creates a consolidated reservation for all of Colorado’s Ute bands on the Western
• 1880- After the Meeker Incident of 1879, the U.S. government aggressively forces northern Ute bands to
sign an agreement removing them from the state. Southern Ute bands remain on their reservation in
southwest Colorado.
• 1912- Dedication of Ute Trail
• 1924- Indigenous people become US citizens
• 1926- Tahama Spring Pavilion named by General Palmer after the Mdewekanton Dakota guide that led
Zebulon Pike to the future site of our city.
• 1942- Fort Carson, named after famous Indian fighter Kit Carson, was founded. In 1863 Carson was
responsible for waging a destructive war against the Navajo that resulted in their removal from the Four
Corners area to southeastern New Mexico. When bands of Navajo refused to accept confinement on
reservations, Carson terrorized the Navajo lands through a scorched earth campaign–burning crops,
destroying villages, and slaughtering livestock. Carson rounded up some 8,000 Navajo and marched them
across New Mexico for imprisonment on the Bosque Redondo Reservation – over 300 miles from their
homes. 3,000 Navajo people died. This event is called the Long Walk.
• 1970- Ute people are able to finally vote anywhere in the state of Colorado .
• 2021- City of Colorado Springs adopts a permanent resolution honoring Indigenous People’s Day