Sunset landscape of Buffalo Mountain in the winter.

Land Acknowledgement


Keystone Science School
Land Acknowledgement

The land that is now known as Colorado is the homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ [Ute, (Nu-chu)], Tséstho’e [Cheyenne, (sto-ey)], Arapaho, several Apache nations, Pueblos, and Newe Sogobia (Eastern Shoshone), as well as members of the Comanche, Diné Bikéyah (di-NAY bi-KAY-yuh), Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ [People of the Seven Council Fires, (oh-chey-tee shah-koh-ween)], and Navajo nations. The Ute people were the primary inhabitants of this area; they do not claim a migration story, but instead have always been a part of the mountains, and always will be. The original nomadic Thirteen Bands of the Ute shared inhabitance throughout Colorado and portions of present-day Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. 

We recognize that Keystone Science School Pennington Campus is established on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Ute people. Additionally, our programs utilize “public lands” all over Colorado, so we recognize the colonial history of those lands and the “ownership” of the land our campers/students learn on. We acknowledge that we are gathering on the seized land of the Ute people who have stewarded this land in the past, present, and will continue to in the future. We also acknowledge the Indigenous people from other nations who resided in Colorado and their contributions to this region. Both the State of Colorado and the United States Government participated in forced removal, genocide, and ethnic cleansing while striving for westward expansion. Instead of friendship, as forged in the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851, 1861) and Cession 426, displacement and massacres occurred, such as with the Sand Creek Massacre

Keystone Science School is teaching and guiding students, campers, and staff towards a life of stewardship, and that is inseparable from the history and current uses/understanding of the land we’re on. We need to recognize and understand our own history and colonialism in order to better facilitate outdoor education and outdoor living skills, and to encourage our future generations towards a future of honor, reparations, and acknowledgment of the land’s being. 

Our goals for this land acknowledgment are based on our mission, in which we strive to inspire curiosity and critical thinking through the lens of science to change lives and strengthen communities – for all communities. As we strive to provide quality outdoor experiences that are culturally relevant to all participants, this land acknowledgment is only one small part of supporting Indigenous communities. “It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgments do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.” – Know The Land Territories Campaign

We invite reflection and curiosity, and call on you to take action to carry on the legacy of Ute stewardship. Join us in this ongoing journey of understanding, respect, and responsible stewardship.

Stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities

The sunrise view of Summit County and Lake Dillon from atop Buffalo Mountain
A closeup view of the bark of an aspen tree.

Learn More about Indigenous People 

Land Acknowledgement Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Land Acknowledgment?

A land acknowledgment is a way of recognizing and honoring the Indigenous peoples who originally inhabited and stewarded the land where we live, work, and play. 

What characteristics make a land acknowledgment most effective? 

Specificity! Explicitly acknowledging the historical and present impacts of colonialism on native people. It is important to reference specific history and acknowledge how this is relevant to our values, goals and mission, and stating our intentions toward native communities and in sharing native cultures. Naming specific indigenous groups is also best practice, instead of broad terminology.

Lastly, don’t make it about you, focus on lifting up indigenous voices past and present.

Why do we recognize the land at Keystone Science School (KSS)?

To inspire curiosity in our students, campers, and staff. Intentionally acknowledging the land helps us remember and respect the history and culture of the Indigenous peoples who were here long before settlers arrived. It is an indigenous tradition to acknowledge the land’s being, and doing so in our land acknowledgment aims to continue and honor this tradition. It’s also a way of showing gratitude for the land that we use during our programming.

Land recognition is an ongoing process. We will continue to update this page as we grow and learn more about the history of this land.

How do we share our land acknowledgment at KSS? 

We customize all of our curriculum and activities to match our various programs . Our staff will use this land acknowledgment as a baseline, customizing to ensure genuine acknowledgment that  ignites conversation and learning in our campers and students of a variety of ages.

List below are a few examples of when and how a land acknowledgement may be shared at Keystone Science School:

  • During Camp Orientation, we’ll talk about the boundaries of KSS property and introduce the Land Acknowledgement that groups will weave into their curriculum throughout the week. 
  • During Adventure Trip Orientation, we’ll talk about where we are going and introduce land acknowledgment that will be built upon during a group’s adventure! 
  • When schools first arrive to our campus for their outdoor education field trip, we welcome them with a shorter version of our land acknowledgment and invite students to share their knowledge with their instructors throughout their trip.
How can I acknowledge the Land?

The best land acknowledgments are expressions of genuine appreciation for the land and the indigenous people who steward the land. Do your best to prepare and research (resources can be found here), speak from the heart and with sincerity.

Where can I hear the indigenous nations’ names pronounced?

Ute Mountain Ute Dictionary