UCCS adopts land acknowledgement honoring Indigenous communities

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs is made of its innovative facilities, its exceptional faculty and staff, and its dedicated students. But there would be no UCCS without the land that it is on. The land we occupy is much older than the institution itself. And before we were here, it was not empty.

Whenever we come together as a community, we take time to acknowledge the Indigenous and Native peoples who stewarded and occupied this land, who called it home. These acknowledgments are crucial for respectfully acknowledging the history of our region; and they are foundational for building meaningful relationships with our Indigenous and Native communities.

Rame Hanna, Vice Chancellor for the Division of DEI, said this land acknowledgment is both a commitment to honoring the land on which we reside as well as a call for authentic restorative action.

“In the development of UCCS’s first land acknowledgment, we were committed to centering and honoring the past, present, and future of Indigenous communities of the Colorado Springs region, while evoking a strong sense of awareness, self-reflection, and advocacy across campus,” said Hanna. 

The Division of DEI worked closely with the Northern Ute, the Southern Ute, and the Ute Mountain Ute Peoples, as well as Indigenous campus community members to create a land acknowledgment that not only honors the past but serves as a call to action for the future. It was crucial that this statement be authored in partnership with the Indigenous communities of the Pikes Peak region. In doing so, the Division of DEI made a point of including Ute language in the acknowledgment. Phonetic pronunciation guides of the original Ute words are found below the statement, and there will be an audio recording on the Division of DEI webpage to assure that proper pronunciation is accessible to all.

“We are grateful for this partnership with members of our local Indigenous and campus community who provided guidance and insight in the development of a land acknowledgment that aligns with the history and future of their communities,” said Hanna.

A land acknowledgement demonstrates UCCS’s continuing respect, and it honors the original inhabitants of the land the campus now occupies. The purpose of a land acknowledgment must go beyond the words themselves. It must be thoughtfully implemented and carried forth by each of us who work and study at UCCS.

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs Land Acknowledgment will be shared for the first time at the upcoming Spring Commencement. It will have a permanent home on the Division of DEI main webpage.

UCCS Land Acknowledgment

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) commits to acknowledging the land on which we reside. We honor our Native Indigenous communities past, present, and emerging, and recognize the original inhabitants and traditional guardians of what is now Colorado Springs.

We honor this land as the ancestral home of the ‘Nuuchiu1’, which includes the Northern Ute, the Southern Ute, and the Ute Mountain Ute Peoples. The ‘Nuuchiu’ originally referred to Pike’s Peak as ‘Tava-Kaavi2’, or Sun Mountain, being the first peak of the Shining Mountains to see the sun’s rays.

We also recognize the many Indigenous Peoples in this region, including the Apache Nation, the Arapaho Nation, the Cheyenne Nation, the Comanche Tribe, and the Kiowa Tribe, and their historical and continuing relationships as stewards of this land.

Land acknowledgments do not exist in the past or as historical context. Colonialism is a current and ongoing practice, and thus we remain mindful of its present impacts. As an institution of higher education, we share the responsibility to actively listen, reflect, and center the histories and lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples.

In community, we will work to dismantle the tragic and oppressive systems that displaced Native Peoples and commit to promoting Indigenous visibility and re-indigenizing our spaces.

1Nuuchiu is pronounced (New-chew), meaning “the people”

2Tava-Kaavi is pronounced (Tah-vah Kaav), meaning “sun mountain”

About the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion aspires to strengthen DEI innovation, impacts, and practices as integral components of inclusive and academic excellence. The Division is committed to fostering an inclusive learning and work environment where all at UCCS feel a sense of belonging and can thrive. The DEI Division promotes the principles of inclusive excellence, multicultural education, and social justice that both enhance the University’s service to the public and contribute directly to the work environment and the quality of learning for all who participate. Additionally, the Division seeks to elevate the impact UCCS has as a regional and national leader in preparing students for success in a diverse global society and workforce.

You can also learn more about the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion online.