Stories define us. It is through stories that we remember who we are, who our ancestors were, and how we recognize the place we call home. For hundreds of generations, Indigenous peoples have woven stories in relationship with these lands we now call Colorado. These stories are beautiful, and they are deep, and they are important. They are vivid stories that flow with the water, breathe with the air, and give voice to the sacred life force that brings all things into being.

In recent history, colonizers have sought to erase these timeless stories and replace them with their own stories through brutal acts of genocide, deception, and exploitation. Their stories are stories of conquering, overpowering, and subduing. These are stories that seek to diminish the generations that have existed in harmony and reciprocal relationship with the land, and to define them as something that existed only in the past tense. But try as they might, they could not and can not make Indigenous stories or their legacies disappear. The stories of Indigenous people are still present and woven into this land, and will be until the end of time. 

It is important to reflect on the story that brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your own place within that story. Every day, through our actions and intentions, we choose how our stories evolve. Just as Indigeneity does not exist in a past tense, neither do the patterns and institutions working to erase it. We must always be mindful in the ways we show up.

This Native American Heritage Day, I urge you to learn the stories of the Arapaho, Apache, Cheyenne, Ute, Pueblo, Shoshone, and over 48 other nations with historic ties to the unceded land we now call Colorado. You can start by learning the territories, languages, and treaties where you live at