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Federal Indian Boarding School Research Program

Concerning the recreation of the federal Indian boarding school research program, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2024 Regular Session
State Government
Bill Summary

In 2022, the general assembly enacted House Bill 22-1327, which created the federal Indian boarding school research program (program) in the state historical society, commonly known as history Colorado. House Bill 22-1327 required the program to conduct research regarding the physical abuse and deaths that occurred at federal Indian boarding schools in Colorado and required history Colorado, in consultation with the Colorado commission of Indian affairs, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to develop recommendations to better understand the abuse that occurred and to support healing in tribal communities. Pursuant to the provisions of House Bill 22-1327, the program was repealed on December 31, 2023.

The bill recreates and reenacts the program and appropriates $1 million from the general fund divided in equal annual payments for fiscal years 2024-25, 2025-26, and 2026-27 with authority to carry forward any unexpended or unencumbered money at the end of the state fiscal year for which it was appropriated to subsequent fiscal years without further appropriation to implement the recommendations developed. The recommendations include:

  • The continuation of the program until December 31, 2027;
  • Authority for history Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado commission of Indian affairs, and the steering committee, to conduct ongoing research and tribal consultations with different tribes and engage in listening sessions with American Indian and Alaska native communities on the history and impact of federal Indian boarding schools in Colorado;
  • The collection of confidential oral histories of survivors that highlight indigenous historically impacted American Indian narratives;
  • Public-facing, joint quarterly updates from history Colorado to the Colorado commission of Indian affairs and the steering committee ;
  • Developing further recommendations to the general assembly to address the impact of federal, state, and local schooling systems on native communities;
  • Developing further recommendations to the Colorado department of education and Colorado department of higher education to support education for native American Indian communities;
  • Conducting research related to objects, artifacts, and real or personal property;
  • Developing further recommendations to the Colorado department of human services and other state agencies on how to address the health, mental health, economic, and other impacts of the boarding school system; and
  • Funding for 2 term-limited FTE to support the recommendations.

The bill specifies that when the society or commission is considering contracting with a third-party entity, the society or commission must give preference to a third-party entity that consists of individuals who are of American Indian descent or are historically impacted American Indians. The bill establishes the steering committee in the society with the purpose of identifying and advising the society on areas of concern regarding Indian boarding schools and issues related to organizing or conducting research efforts related to graves at school sites, development of support groups, and other supportive efforts related to Indian boarding schools. The steering committee members serve without compensation and without reimbursement for any expenses incurred related to serving on the committee. The steering committee consists of the following members: •An individual who represents the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe;

•An individual who represents the Southern Ute Indian Tribe;

•2 individuals who are citizens of other tribal nations identified as having members enrolled at any time in an Indian boarding school in Colorado;

•3 survivors of Indian boarding schools in Colorado;

•3 descendants of Colorado Indian boarding school survivors;

•One American Indian in the cultural resource management profession;

•One trauma-informed mental health professional;

•One American Indian employee of the society;

•One individual who has expertise in researching the history and impact of Indian boarding schools; and

•One tribal historic preservation officer from any of the identified tribal nations that had students attend a boarding school in Colorado.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details