John Emhoolah Jr. #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth #NAHM #AmericanIndianandAlaskaNativeHeritageMonth

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate the life and work of John Emhoolah Jr., who passed away last year. Veteran, engineer, educator, and activist, John Emhoolaj Jr., was a prominent figure who spent a 50 year career advocating for indigenous education initiatives and spanned from the local to the national level. Recently, a branch of the Denver Public Library was renamed in his honor.

The Denverite published a story about the renaming ceremony in October 2021:

The library formerly known as the Byers Branch has officially been renamed the Thunderbird Man Branch in honor of John Emhoolah Jr., an Indigenous activist who spent 50 years advocating for Indigenous students.

What’s more, Emhoolah, a member of the Kiowa and Arapaho tribes, was a descendent of survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre, the same massacre the library’s old namesake, William Byers, belittled.

Emhoolah gave decades of his life to public service. After completing a bachelor’s degree in education at Colorado State University, he served in the Army during the Korean War. After the war he founded the University of Washington’s Native American Studies Program, before continuing his mission in Colorado lobbying for more tribal school funding. He was a leader in the Denver Indigenous community for decades before his death on April 21, 2021, at the age of 91.

John


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