Auraria Higher Education Center Creates ‘Historic Auraria Consortium’ to Support and Honor Displaced Aurarians and Indigenous Groups
Composed of campus and community partners, the Consortium will develop a strategy to honor and celebrate the heritage of the Indigenous tribal nations that once called this area home.
The Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC), the State of Colorado agency that stewards the 150-acre Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, has created the Historic Auraria Consortium. Composed of campus and community partners, the Consortium will develop and execute a strategy to honor and celebrate the heritage of the Indigenous tribal nations that once called this area home and Ninth Street Historic Park in the Auraria Neighborhood, which pre-dates the founding of Denver by two years. AHEC has hired David Olguín as the cultural and community engagement director to spearhead several strategic initiatives. Olguín will be working with the Displaced Aurarian communities and Indigenous communities to help amplify the stories and reconcile the history of Auraria while creating a space for information, connection and healing.
“We recognize the many opportunities to pay homage to and honor the rich history of the land and communities who lived, worked and worshiped here before it was the Auraria Campus,” said Colleen Walker, CEO of the Auraria Higher Education Center. “David will be an integral part of this work to help preserve the legacies of the Indigenous Peoples and the families displaced by the formation of campus who were the previous stewards of this land. It’s an important time to align our actions to meet the communities’ desires and uplift the generational work already being done.”
To create the Historic Auraria Consortium, AHEC will collaborate with the Auraria Board of Directors, Community College of Denver (CCD), Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) and University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver). The Consortium will include community members representing the Displaced and Indigenous Aurarian communities, representatives from Auraria’s four institutions and collaborators from the Colorado legislature, History Colorado, Downtown Denver Partnership and Historic Denver. As the first project, the Consortium will create and oversee a long-term stewardship plan for Ninth Street Historic Park. The initiatives to be addressed by the Consortium will also include developing a historical archive of Ninth Street Park, fostering collaboration with impacted community members and establishing healing spaces.
In addition to this work, Olguín will work with Lulu Lantzy, chief activation officer, on community outreach and activation of the campus, specifically for Ninth Street Historic Park.
Olguín follows a restorative, community-first approach to his reconciliation and advocacy work. He previously served as the student advisor to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the co-chair of the Equity Champions Coalition at the Colorado Department of Higher Education, legislative liaison to the State Student Advisory Council of the Colorado Community College System, RISE Education Fund selection committee member, as well as a proud member several student organizations. Olguín continues to serve Denver’s Latino community as a mayoral appointee and vice chair of the Latino Commission of Denver’s Human Rights and Community Partnerships.
Olguín, a first-generation adult graduate, obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Public Service from the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver and an Associate of Arts from Front Range Community College Westminster. Olguín completed his degree with distinction by intentionally fusing his degree pathway to ethnic studies research, gaining knowledge of the histories and epistemologies of Black, Indigenous, Chicano and Latino communities. Olguín credits his many mentors and advisors for guiding him toward degree completion and connectivity to the community. Olguín is the happiest in community.
Olguín is passionate about equity and community building because of his lived experience and his fervor to drive forward the social, political and economic mobility of marginalized communities. Olguín says his “ambition was born out of a fundamental desire to reconcile history and, in the tradition of the ancestors and elders, to bear witness and make our testimonios known.” He is rooted in his desire to connect la comunidad to restorative healing and recognition.
ABOUT AURARIA HIGHER EDUCATION CENTER
Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) is a 150-acre dynamic and vibrant campus conveniently located in the heart of downtown Denver. It is shared by three separate and distinct institutions of higher learning: Community College of Denver, the University of Colorado Denver and the Metropolitan State University of Denver. The Auraria Campus, has a rich history as the center of the city and is now home to nearly 40,000 students (about twice the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden), several cultural attractions, including museums, 9th Street Historic Park, St. Cajetan’s church and more. AHEC focuses on enhancing the experiences of those who study, work, live and play on the campus. To meet the needs of a complex and ever-changing urban campus, AHEC encompasses three pillars, including Experience Auraria, Elevate Service and Expand Impact, as our teams work to meet the needs of the campus and community in new, innovative ways. In addition to being an education hub in the middle of the city, the campus is an urban center used as a gathering space for family-friendly community events, festivals and celebrations and for corporate meetings and conferences. We invite you to experience Auraria! For more information, visit www.ahec.edu, and follow us on social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.