Longmont City Council officially took note Tuesday evening of the indigenous peoples who originally lived and managed the land the city now occupies.
Council members voted unanimously to adopt an official “Land Recognition Declaration” which reads, “We recognize that Longmont is within the traditional territory of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ute and other indigenous peoples. We honor the history and the living and spiritual connection that the first peoples have with this land. It is our commitment to face the injustices that occurred when the land was taken, and to educate our communities, ourselves and our children to ensure that these injustices do not happen again. “
The statement, a slightly reworded version of a project previously approved by the Longmont Museum Advisory Board and its Sustainability Advisory Board, “recognizes and respects Indigenous peoples as the traditional custodians of this land and the enduring relationship that exists. between indigenous peoples and their traditional territories, ”according to a note to the City Staff Council and Erik Mason, the curator of history at the Longmont Museum.
“I’m really happy to see this,” said City Councilor Polly Christensen of the land recognition declaration. She suggested that as Longmont installs new information signs in its parks and open spaces, the statement should be posted on each sign.
Mayor Brian Bagley said approving the declaration was like sending a message to Indigenous people as well as Longmont residents and visitors to the community. But, he asked, if the words of the statement are true, “What are we going to do about it?” “
Bagley, who has been working for over three years on Longmont’s formal pending alliance with the Northern Arapaho Wind River Reservation in Wyoming as sister towns, said community engagement must be “more than a simple statement “.
He suggested that one possibility would be for residents of Longmont to provide homes for tribal children attending colleges and universities in the area.
Christensen agreed that the community of Longmont must “do something substantial” for their counterparts on the Wind River reserve.
City staff members told Council that as part of the museum’s work on Longmont’s 150th anniversary exhibit, Mason explored a land recognition statement on behalf of the museum. Staff and Mason said land recognitions were adopted as a best practice in all sectors, especially among museums and higher education institutions.
In preparing the Longmont Declaration Proposal, the museum consulted with Montoya Whiteman, who is Cheyenne and Arapaho – the tribes most closely affiliated with Longmont.
“Whiteman has done a tremendous amount of research on the subject and is working on a similar project with the Denver Art Museum,” city staff and Mason said in their memo for Tuesday night’s council meeting. “She drew our attention to the fact that Denver City Council has adopted a Land Acknowledgment Statement that it read before every council meeting. Museum staff then considered the opportunity to broaden the conversation beyond the museum and talk about it in terms of the city as a whole.
In October, then University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy released a statement that read in part: “By coming together we honor and recognize that the four campuses of the University of Colorado are on the traditional territories and ancestral lands of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ute, Apache, Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Pueblo and Shoshone nations. Additionally, we recognize the 48 contemporary tribal nations historically linked to the lands that make up what is now called Colorado. “