History Colorado Issues Third Progress Report to Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs on House Bill 22-1327 Research
DENVER — March 16, 2023 —History Colorado’sState Archaeologist, Dr. Holly Norton, presented a third quarterly report about Federal Indian Boarding Schools in Colorado to the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) on March 16, 2023.
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The report outlines the progress to date in implementing the Federal Indian Boarding School Research Program Act (HB 22-1327), which was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on May 24, 2022. The act directs History Colorado to investigate the lived experiences of students at the one-time federal Native American boarding school in Hesperus, Colorado, also referred to as the Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School, as well as identify potential burial places of students who perished while attending the school.
The latest report provides updates on the ongoing research being conducted at the location of the former Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School, work done at The Teller Institute in Grand Junction, and next steps prior to the issuance of a final report on June 30.
Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School, Hesperus
Final analysis of remote sensing at the Fort Lewis site is being completed by Statistical Research, Inc (SRI) and the final report is expected to be done by the end of March 2023. These efforts use methods outlined in the September report and are non-ground disturbing, meaning that soils and sediments are not excavated, dug, or removed in any way.
Additionally, archival research of the Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School is ongoing from SRI and Alpine Archaeological Consultants, an archaeological consulting firm contracting on this project.
The Teller Institute, Grand Junction
Alpine Archaeological Consultants and AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm contracting on this project, continue to analyze historical documents related to the Teller Institute and new documents were gathered by the History Colorado team from the National Archives in Washington DC in February of 2023. Remote sensing of the Teller Institute has been funded by a State Historical Fund grant issued in December 2022 and is planned for late spring or early summer of 2023.
History Colorado is continuing to investigate archival materials and consult with Tribal representatives. Dr. Norton has begun to draft the final report to CCIA which will include final analysis from SRI and summaries of archival research, and anticipates at least one additional consultation meeting with Tribal representatives prior to the final report’s release on June 30.
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 143-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado.
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 HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.