The Mission of the Denver American Indian Commission is to enhance present and future communications between the Denver American Indian Community and the City and County of Denver, to advocate for social and cultural awareness and to promote economic and political equality.
Monthly meetings take place on the second Wednesday of every month.
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science (in the Harry T. Lewis Room)
2001 Colorado Blvd
(Sicangu Lakota & Cherokee)
Ms. Bad Hand is an artist that hails from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for community and social justice have led her to create, through the genre of comic illustration, a place in which indigenous youth, and particularly indigenous women, are empowered. She studied for four years at the Art Institute of Colorado and is an entrepreneur with big dreams. Kristina is currently a Community Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education and is an active volunteer in community programs, animal shelters and after-school programs throughout the Denver metro area. She is also a member of multiple socially engaged groups and non-profit organizations such as Red Team Go!: An Artists’ Collective, Write Our World, Pop Culture Classroom and the Stronghold Society
(Bois Forte Ojibwa/Oglala Lakota) Venus Boatner is currently an Associate City Planner at the City and County of Denver. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Design from The Art Institute of Colorado, Denver. Venus is a Native of Minneapolis, MN and is passionate about serving her community. As a mother of 2 children, Rodric Jr. and Jahquin, she engages in their educational and extracurricular activities. Since 2009, Venus has been a dedicated civil servant and forward-looking community member. In addition to working for the City she has volunteered with the Salvation Army and Palmer Elementary (Denver Public Schools) respectfully.
Derek Brown loves to make videos and is a founding member of Café Cultura, a poetry-slam organization. His many honors and awards include the President Scholarship of the Art Institute of Colorado (Winter 2010), scholarship winner from the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce, awarded student of the quarter at The Art Institute of Colorado (Spring 2009), nominated for the 2009 Regional Heartland Emmy® Award for the Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run/Walk. Derek served as the Production Associate on the 2013 Emmy® Award (Heartland Chapter) Winner – Best Cultural Documentary for Urban Rez
(Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians/Apache)
Michelle volunteers with Indigenous youth in the Denver-Metro area, as the Director for the Medicine Heart Dancers.
Through her non-profit work, Michelle has helped to create opportunities for youth members to actively participate in cultural activities, including performances at schools and events statewide.
At the Denver Indian Center, Michelle works with youth teaching Pow-Wow style dancing and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
As a student of Anthropology and Journalism at Metropolitan State University, Michelle supports her community through her own education. She recently presented at the High Plains Society Annual Conference on Historical Trauma and Cultural Preservation through Traditional Education.
Michelle also works in Public Relations for a local minority-female owned firm.
Mervyn L. Tano (Native Hawaiian/Indigenous Puerto Rican) is an attorney and for the past 15 years, the president of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, a law and policy research institution. Mr. Tano has worked with Indian tribes and organizations for over 25 years with stints as the director of planning and budget at the Administration for Native Americans and as general counsel and director of environmental programs at the Council of Energy Resource Tribes. He was a member of several national advisory boards including EPA’s Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee, the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, DOE Office of Science and Technology’s Community Leaders Network, and several committees of the National Academy of Public Administration and National Research Council. Mr. Tano has written extensively on Indian law, risk, cultural resources management, environmental justice, climate, environmental restoration, technology development, environmental law, and radioactive waste management.
Lance Tsosie was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. His immediate family was moved from Diné Bikéyah in search for a prosperous future. After completing high school, Lance was a finalist for the Daniels Fund Scholarship and moved to Denver to attend the University of Denver. While at DU, Lance strove to make the campus a more inclusive campus where he founded the Native Student Alliance.
Now, he is the Operations Manager for College Track Aurora, an educational non-profit. Through his work, he is able to work one on one with students who come from underserved communities and shed light on Native American social justice issues.
His dream is to one day return to the Navajo Nation and work with students who dream to attain a four year degree.
(Eastern Shoshone/Oglala Lakota)
Kimberly Varilek is an Eastern Shoshone tribal member who recently returned to Denver, CO and is a practicing attorney working with emphasis on federal Indian law issues, including jurisdiction and tribal environmental concerns. Ms. Varilek is the former-Attorney General for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in WY, where she worked for over seven (7) years on general Indian law issues, policy, and litigation, and was in private practice in Colorado prior to working internally for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.