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First-time Native appointment announced by Colorado governor

DURANGO, Colo. – The first Native to serve on the board of trustees of a major state college initially founded as an Indian boarding school was appointed Jan. 20 by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr.

Karen Wilde, Muscogee Creek/Pawnee, of Aurora, Colo., will fill a vacancy on the board of Fort Lewis College, which began nearly 100 years ago as a boarding school; and today is home to the Center of Southwest Studies.

Fort Lewis College provides tuition waivers to American Indian students and offers a bachelor’s degree in Native American and Indigenous Studies. Native students comprise nearly 20 percent of the college’s student body.

Wilde was one of two enrolled Indian candidates for the Colorado Legislature in 2008, but as a first-time candidate, did not win in House District 40. She was on INDN’s list as an endorsed candidate in the Indigenous Democratic Network.

She works as a senior research assistant and project coordinator at the University of Colorado-Denver’s medical campus, overseeing 30 projects nationwide that are directed toward preventing cardiovascular disease that often accompanies diabetes.

The nine-member Fort Lewis College board sets policy and oversees operations at the college in Durango. The appointments require Senate confirmation.