No Justice on Stolen Land: Solidarity and Collective Action
We denounce the ongoing violence of dispossession and displacement that started with colonization and continues today, and we stand in solidarity to give back the land
Before it was named as Denver, this land we stand upon today was known by the Arapaho people as niinenii-niicie or “tallow river”. Before this area was known as Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea, and before this river that flows through our neighborhoods was called the South Platte, Indigenous Peoples were the original stewards of this Land. The relationship between Indigenous People and the Land spans thousands of generations, and Indigenous Peoples have long been the stewards responsible for first selecting, breeding and cultivating the abundance of agricultural crops that we know and enjoy today.
We first recognize that the story of our home - our past, present and future - is tied to this relationship with the Land. We know this includes the evolution of the larger bioregion and its ever-evolving web of social and ecological relationships found across the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and through its’ inextricable connection to the Great Plains, which for thousands of years was the largest single ecosystem in this land now named North America. We also recognize that the diverse prairie ecosystem was the primary source of material and cultural wealth for Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains-- and was also home to hundreds of plant and animal species that form part of the herbal, medicinal, agricultural and scientific knowledge of indigenous peoples and communities.
We recognize the indigenous history of the Denver region and Colorado more broadly, and recognize the indigenous peoples who have cared for the South Platte watershed and Front Range bioregion long before colonization, including the hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Oglala Lakota), as well as the Apache, Comanche, and Shoshone nations. As we face the threats of displacement posed by gentrification, climate change, and the pandemic today, we recognize that this displacement and dispossession began with violence of racial capitalism-- colonization and slavery which then facilitate land grabs, and forced the removal of Indigenous people from this land.
We recognize that the land along the South Platte River where Denver was founded, was stewarded by the Arapaho people, as laid out in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. When prospectors discovered gold in Colorado in June 1858, over 100,000 gold-seekers traveled west. On November 29, 1864, approximately 675 United States soldiers killed more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people, a majority women, children and elders who were living peacefully near Fort Lyon, Colorado, a place where government negotiators had assured them safety. This violence (the Sand Creek Massacre) was a pivotal event in the Colorado territory land grabs and the violent removal of the Arapaho and Cheyenne people from their traditional lands. These violent land grabs were supported by federal soldiers and brutal expansionist policies designed to destroy and dispossess Indigenous People a, and provided incentives including legal and military protection for white settlers to forcibly steal the land, and provoke violence against Indigenous People.
By the 1880’s, the violent forces of colonization had systematically hunted the bison to near extinction, transforming the once communal prairie hunting grounds into private farms and cattle ranches. By this time, nearly all of the native tribes in the Colorado Territory were forcibly removed from this land. It is this period of violent colonization, land grabs and dispossession that forms the origins of our neighborhoods, which were incorporated into the City of Denver in 1870 (Swansea), 1890 (Elyria), and 1891 (Globeville).
Through this recognition of the impacts of the terrible violence of colonization on Indigenous People and the Land, we aim to honor the land and the indigenous peoples who are the original, historical and long-standing stewards of this land, and we aim to name and denounce the ongoing violence of colonization, dispossession and displacement committed against this land and and against indigenous people that continues today.
We stand in solidarity with all Indigenous Peoples. We stand in solidarity with all Black and Brown communities. We stand in solidarity with all communities across the world struggling against the same systems of violence. In an act of solidarity, in name and action we commit to reparations and redistributive policies, and we commit to partnership and collaboration with Indigenous and Black communities (and other communities targeted for systemic extraction) to best provide the community needs to those harmed by this historic extraction and dispossession. This is a commitment to utilize our collective power for demanding, organizing and power-sharing reparations of land from those institutions that have harmed our communities, while at the same time giving, organizing and power-sharing to build reparations of the land back to Black and Indigenous communities.