Press Release

History Colorado Appointed to Lead Research into the History of Indian Boarding Schools in Colorado

DENVER (August 12, 2022) — The Native American Boarding School Research Program Act, HB22-1327, was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on May 24, 2022, and directs History Colorado to investigate the lived experiences of students at the onetime federal Indian boarding school in Hesperus, Colo., as well as identify potential burial places of students who perished while attending the school. The site of the former school and potential burial places is owned today by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Fort Lewis College.

Jeannie McFarland Johnson
Director of Marketing & Communications
303.866.5786 |

History Colorado will spend the next year working closely with tribal partners, subject matter experts and other stakeholders to research the events, physical and emotional abuse, and deaths in order to develop recommendations necessary to better understand the mistreatment and victimization that occurred and to support healing in tribal communities.

This team will be led by Dr. Holly Kathryn Norton, who is the director of the Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (OAHP) at History Colorado and Colorado’s official state archaeologist, and has expertise in methods and approaches for sensitive cultural sites.

History Colorado will provide progress updates to the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA), the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe at CCIA Quarterly Meetings, which are open to the public. CCIA Quarterly Meeting information is located on the CCIA website. The first progress meeting will take place in September 2022. 

In addition to the school site in Hesperus, History Colorado has been conducting similar research at a second federal Indian boarding school site, known as the Teller Institute, in Grand Junction, Colo. The property currently serves as one of three state regional centers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that serves more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 143-year-old institution that operates Colorado’s oldest museum, ten additional museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. 

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and 10 other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.