Nelson Running Wolf

In 1970, two American Indian students at CU Denver joined together to advocate for resources needed for current and future Native students.

Michael Running Wolf and Harold “Jim” Nelson saw that tribal students needed access to specific supports in order to thrive and succeed at CU Denver. They promoted the value of establishing a culturally specific “home,” where American Indian students could fee respected, understood, and safe – a place to gather and strengthen each other culturally, spiritually, socially, and academically so that they could achieve their educational dreams and fulfill their destinies as leaders of their indigenous peoples.

In July 1989, the University of Colorado Denver implemented a specific scholarship that would assist in recruiting and retaining American Indian students. By creating the scholarship, the university made a commitment to help relieve an additional financial burden for students whose people had been removed from their original homelands located within Colorado. These students would have otherwise qualified for in-state tuition. The scholarship also affirms the unique political status of American Indian students. As a group, American Indian people are regarded as dual-citizens of sovereign American Indian Nations and the United States. The dual status recognizes the federal trust responsibility that obligates educational funds through treaties in exchange for tribal land and resources.

Eligibility is based on enrollment at CU Denver, tribal identity, merit and general financial need. Each applicant will be required to submit documentation, write a personal essay that describes cultural identity and relevance of higher education, demonstrates merit (for example, service to community) and addresses how the scholarship will help meet their financial need.

  • Must be enrolled at CU Denver downtown campus as a current student. Students must be at lease part-time (6 undergraduate, 3 graduate).
  • Tribal Identity: A citizen or enrolled member of an American Indian nation, tribe, band or Alaska Native corporation (federally or state recognized, or terminated); or
  • A descendant from a grandparent who is listed on an official census of such groups; or
  • A letter from a tribal leader which confirms that the student is a recognized member of an Indian community
  • Merit: Applications should describe their active involvement with American Indian culture and communities. Examples: Student must provide service to American Indian organizations or groups; participates in traditional language and cultural practices; is involved in political activism related to Indigenous issues; or is an active member of CU Denver native student organizations or programs.

For scholarship continuation, awardees must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and successfully complete the part-time or full-time coursework that the student enrolled in semester awarded. The scholarship is not renewable, students must reapply each academic year

Supplemental Questions
  1. Are you a member of a government recognized Native American/American Indian Tribe/Band/Nation?
  2. Please answer the following questions to be considered for the Nelson Running Wolf Scholarship.
    • In 500 words or less, please describe your community involvement and service, as well as your educational and career goals. Share with the committee how your education will benefit Native people.
    • In 500 words or less, please tell the committee about you. How you identify as a tribal person, and what your cultural identity means to you.
    • Name of Tribe/Band/Nation:
    • Please submit a copy of at least *one* document that verifies your tribal affiliation or cultural identity.