Two Native Americans Detained on Colorado Campus Tour, American Indian College Fund Urges Colleges to Make Institutions Welcoming

Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, left, and his brother Lloyd Skanahwati Gray were detained by Colorado State University campus police after a prospective student’s “nervous” mother called 911 because she was fearful of the two brothers.

Published May 7, 2018

DENVER — The story of two young Native American men detained by CSU Campus Police after a nervous parent called to report them has been in the news. The American Indian College Fund is urging education institutions to take steps to make their campuses welcoming environments for Native people and other people of color.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, released a statement, which was featured on Denver7 and TheDenverChannel.com.

“We at the Denver-based national non-profit, the American Indian College Fund, were angry to learn about the incident at Colorado State University. People of color deserve to be included in higher education like anyone else.

College visits are an important part of the pre-college experience, and we encourage potential students to visit colleges to feel safe and accepted at the college of their choice. It is upsetting when Native students are hesitant to consider a college based on experiences, such as what occurred at Colorado State University (CSU).

American Indians and Alaska Natives have a 14 percent degree-attainment rate, according to the National Center for Education statistics—which is less than half of the national average.

Colleges and universities must promote access to an equitable higher education for Native American students by investing in education, resources, and processes to eliminate institutionalized racism and to provide an equitable education. Native American students comprised only 1% of CSU’s undergraduate and graduate student body in 2015, according to the CSU web site.

We urge higher education institutions to join us in our efforts to increase the numbers of Native people with college degrees by making their institutions more welcoming. They can acknowledge the indigenous people on whose lands work is being done and where institutions exist; implement training to help students, faculty, and staff to name racism when it happens; train college personnel about indigenous culture, history, and inclusion; and examine existing curriculum to ensure fair representation of Native people’s history, accomplishments, and contributions. Finally, we urge higher education institutions to report on the status of Native American students at their institutions by including their student data in all institutional data points.”

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