Five indigenous tribe leaders will visit Denver this week to rally in support of the American Indian Academy of Denver.
The Charter School faces intervention and the threat of closure from Denver Public Schools as it seeks to increase enrollment. The parents will address the school board publicly on Monday, November 28. The public statement was originally scheduled for Tuesday November 29, but Will Jones, DPS Executive Director of Communications, said: “Tuesday November 29 marks the anniversary of the Sand Creek massacre. Chairman Xóchitl Gaytán asked that the public comment session be moved to this Monday 28th out of respect for the history of our Indian families.”
Veronica Lightning Horse Perez said, “The parents have worked so hard to spread awareness and let people know that because it’s so important to have a school, we have five tribal leaders that are going to come to Denver that meets the needs of the indigenous people.”
Perez says while Colorado invests money to preserve Native American landmarks or rewrite history to reflect key perspectives, it’s important to know that Indigenous peoples are still here and their needs matter.
“Our kids are still here, our kids are living right now and have needs right now,” she said. “Putting our cultures in a museum is a beautiful way of honoring some history, but we haven’t disappeared into history, we’re right here.”
The American Indian Academy opened during the pandemic and currently serves students in grades 6 through 10 representing 30 zip codes in the Denver metro area. Students integrate 21st-century technology with indigenous practices to understand, for example, the importance of conserving land and water.
When asked what makes the school special, student Joseph Robles said: ‘There’s more engagement instead’do that do that.'”
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero said the academy is facing a financial gap due to its small student enrollment — and as the charter school author, DPS has an obligation to step in.
But the indigenous community says the school needs to be given more time to prove it can thrive.
“I appreciate all the colors in the world that come to this rally,” said Perez. “When we show up and stand up for one another, when we show up when we see something has been done wrong and do what we can to make it right, it’s amazing the healing and gratitude and life that brings people back.” .”
Speakers at the rally, which will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at DPS headquarters, will include representatives from the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Sisseton Wahpeton, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Grupo Tlaloc.