Four Winds American Indian Council
Four Winds American Indian Council, one of the oldest American Indian organizations in Denver, has joined forces with a coalition of local and national American Indian organizations to demand that the City of Denver address Native American homelessness in more effective ways, including permanent American Indian housing and a Native-preference Safe Outdoor Space.
According to the 2021 Point in Time Count, American Indians and Alaska Natives make up 5% of Denver’s homeless population, despite accounting for less than 1% of the general population. Advocates say this disproportionate representation points to the need for urgent solutions that address the City of Denver’s historical relationship with Native Americans.
For weeks, unhoused Native people have occupied what is being called the, “Denver Indigenous Refugee Camp,” outside the Four Winds building at the corner of 5th Avenue and Bannock Street. The city plans to destroy the camp and displace its residents in the early hours of August 31.
The unhoused Native people maintain that the City’s current actions and policies are merely the latest example of anti-Indian policy in a long history that stretches back to the Sand Creek Massacre and before. Four Winds and its allies vow to stand in solidarity with their Native relatives if the city attempts to destroy the camp on Tuesday morning.
“We call our home here the Denver Indigenous Refugee Camp, because we have been rendered refugees in our own homeland,'' said WalterLee Hawkins, one of the representatives of the camp. “This city is built on stolen Indian land, in violation of sacred treaties, and the Mayor’s camping ban is continuing that legacy. “
“This time, we’re not going anywhere. All we want is to be treated like human beings, and to be respected as the indigenous peoples of this land. We want a safe place to live, in peace, to get our lives together. That’s not too much to ask after 98% of our original territories were stolen and after every one of the 371 treaties with the United States have been broken.”
Mateo Parsons, Board Chair of Four Winds American Indian Council added his comment:
“We are calling on the City of Denver to stop the sweep, collaborate with our community to develop long-term housing solutions for Native Americans in Denver, and help us create a Native-preference Safe Outdoor Space so that our relatives on the streets can transition to stable housing in a safe environment.”
A coalition of Native people will meet with Mayor Hancock on Monday afternoon, August 30th.
“It’s time for the City of Denver and Mayor Hancock to heal their relationship with American Indians living in Denver. The city has chosen not to listen to the people or our representatives, and now we are demanding that they do. We are demanding real change, and real solutions,” said Parsons.
Sky-Roosevelt Morris, Vice-Chair of the Board of Four Winds American Indian Council added,
“The City thinks it can do whatever it wants to Native people. We are here to say that they cannot. We will say so with our principles, we will say so with our words, and we will say so with our bodies, if necessary. We know that the spirit of our ancestors who fought and died so that we can be here today will be with us in our efforts.”
About Four Winds American Indian Council
Four Winds American Indian Council, as an organization and family, works for the physical, spiritual, political, community, economic, and social liberation of all Indigenous Peoples and lands through community support, political education, grassroots organizing, and advocacy.