So House Bill 1067 has been scuttled, but according to the Herald (Jan. 23), the fight has left bruised feelings"
among officials in Denver. Now Fort Lewis College has to worry about a backlash because powerful people such as Reps.
Middleton and Pommer, and Colorado Higher Education chief Munn, had their feelings hurt by accusations of racism in a
few private e-mails.
What about the feelings of Native American students and their families, some of whom struggle harder than Denver
suburbanites ever will know to go to college and still keep a foothold in their traditional lands and ways of life,only to be told by online commentators that they are lazy and spoiled, living on free land given to them by an
overgenerous Uncle Sam?
This needs to be understood: The tuition waiver is not charity. It is part of Colorado's mortgage payment for the land
the college sits on. Colorado bought" it from the United States, which bought" it from its original Native American
owners. There was no time limit written into this provision of the contract to educate American Indian students free of
tuition. It's the law, confirmed in 1973 by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Perhaps people like Middleton, Pommer and Munn are not outright racists, but think about it: Here's this small college
in a far corner of the state, with American Indian education at its core, with a strong Native American student
presence unlike any other public college in the country. This is the one they decide to target with budget cuts far
greater proportionally than any other institution in the Colorado system - and that's before HB 1067 came along
attempting to cut $1.8 million more. Do legislators from Aurora and officials in Denver have any idea what the
opportunity of FLC means for Native American students? I would call it the subtle racism of convenient ignorance.
Denver should have come to college officials years ago with their concerns about the mounting cost of the Native
American tuition waiver. The state and the college should have worked together to find solutions.
Chris Jocks, Durango