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Colorado resolution compares Indians’ deaths to Holocaust

Colleen Slevin
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The Colorado Legislature passed a resolution Wednesday comparing the deaths of millions of American Indians to the Holocaust and other acts of genocide around the world.

The nonbinding measure passed 22-12 in the Senate and 59-4 in the House after some lawmakers protested that it unfairly condemned all Europeans for injustices against Indians.

The resolution says Europeans intentionally caused many American Indian deaths and that early American settlers often treated Indians with “cruelty and inhumanity.”



It specifically mentions the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation in 1838 and the 1864 Sand Creek massacre in Colorado. It also refers to deaths due to disease that were intensified by forced migrations, food deprivation and enslavement by Europeans.

Senate Joint Resolution 31 was approved after the recent passage of annual resolutions backing Holocaust Awareness Week and remembering the deaths of Armenians in modern day Turkey from 1915 to 1923.




Sponsor Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, said a resolution in honor of American Indians was long overdue.

“Colleagues, this resolution is a recognition that up 120 million indigenous people have died as a result of European migration to what is now the United States of America,” said Williams, a Comanche Indian.

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, said the resolution painted all Europeans with a broad brush. He recalled how his grandfather traveled unarmed around New Mexico in the early 1900’s and how he later invited lawmaker Manuel Lujan to stay with his family because he had been the target of racist death threats.

“There’s no way I can vote for this resolution,” McElhany said.

Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, said the resolution wasn’t meant to blame all Europeans. She compared it to the language about Germans that lawmakers used when they spoke Tuesday in support of a Holocaust resolution.

Members of a group of American Indians who came to the Capitol to watch the vote said they wanted recognition of what happened to their ancestors.

“It’s nothing personal to the people of today but we have to recognize the past,” said Theresa Gutierrez, who works with American Indian students at the University of Colorado in Denver.


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