Associated Press
Colorado State Senator Mary Hodge voted against House Bill 1124

Reparations Comment Sparks Ire After Bill for Indian Tuition Dies

Simon Moya Smith

A bill in Colorado that would have provided prospective Native American college students with in-state tuition died Tuesday in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hours after the bill was defeated by a 3-4 vote, State Senator Mary Hodge – the only Democrat to vote against it – told ICTMN that the potential cost of the bill was too great and that there was an issue of “reparations.”

“I don’t know how long we can make reparations [to Native Americans] or how far we’d have to go back,” she said. “I guess my point is we can’t fix what we did.”

House Bill 1124, sponsored by State Representative Joseph Salazar, was to provide a Native American of a federally recognized tribe with resident status when applying to a state-supported institution if the student’s tribe had “historical ties” to what is now Colorado territory. “Often due to circumstances beyond their control, many American Indian tribes and members of American Indian tribes have been forced to relocate across state lines, far from their historical home places,” the bill reads.

“Those people are already gone,” Sen. Hodge said. “At what point do we say ‘we’re sorry’ and move on? And I don’t know if we’re there yet.”

Rep. Salazar told ICTMN that he is “absolutely baffled” by Sen. Hodge’s comments concerning reparations to Native Americans. “This isn’t reparations. This is recognizing that something has to be done in the state of Colorado to encourage native youth to come here to get a higher education,” he said. “The idea of reparations is just absolutely offensive.”

Rep. Salazar said the bill had garnered bipartisan support and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was behind it. He said Sen. Hodge did not inform him that she was against the bill before the committee hearing.

Rep. Salazar was in another meeting about to speak on the merits on the bill when he received a text message from a senator on the senate appropriations committee who informed him that Sen. Hodge had voted against his bill, essentially killing it.  


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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
Families of college-bound students and enrolled university students are getting the screws of tuition hikes turned more and more. According to, the overall consumer price index increased by 115% since 1985, while university tuition rate increased by a whopping 500% !! Colorado State Sen. Mary Hodge needs to take a much wider view if she truly wants to see their higher education institutions serving to meet the needs of the vastly growing minorities. In contrast, Arizona now provides in-state tuition rates for its 22 federally recognized tribes. If one of the tribal members resides out of state and returns to Arizona, they are eligible for the lower in-state tuition rate. ASU, one of three major universities, had 2,200+ Native American students enrolled in 2013 and has a Special Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs. They are proud that the seat is occupied by a member of the Hopi tribe. An Apache acquaintance of mine told me last week that he is considering a move from Arizona to Colorado with his daughters who are not yet in high school. I will be sure to let him know that he can expect to pay dearly for their college education as opposed to what Arizona offers. As for reparation? Pleeze. If you know anything about treaties, its nation-to-nation agreements and the U.S. government is bound to provide tribal nations, who had their lands forcefully taken, with basic health and education services. State Rep. Joseph Salazar, please do not give up on your efforts for a fair and just legislation that will bring a brighter future for Colorful Colorado. I have no doubt that that Native American residents there will actively support your continued efforts when called upon. I certainly do!

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
But yet Colorado officials will go out of their way to ensure 'unenrolled, undocumented immigrants' are given just as much right to attend/participate in in-state tuition colleges/universities. Obviously when it comes higher education in Colorado, an immigrant has more rights than a legitiate American Indian member of a RECOGNIZED TRIBAL NATION (Tribe to Federal Govt.). Federal resources are tight and State funds are limited, interesting watch how legitimate Indian affairs are trumped over who is getting help, i.e. "my brother's keeper", "foreign aid", "immigrant bills".