Jan 13, 2023 - News

Meet Arron Julian, the state's new indigenous office leader

Arron Julian. Photo: Courtesy of the Colorado Department of Public Safety

As a tribal member himself, former police chief Arron Julian said he couldn't pass up the opportunity to advocate for Native tribes.

Details: Julian, who previously served as police chief for two tribal nations in California, was named director of Colorado's newly formed Office of Liaison for Missing or Murdered Indigenous Relatives last fall, a position he occupies within the state's Division of Criminal Justice.

  • The office's goal is to improve the state's probes into missing and murdered Indigenous people, and calls for coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • The effort seeks to provide resources for what Julian called an "underserved" community in the state, with at least 1.7% of Colorado's population identifying as Native American, according to the U.S. Census data.

Between the lines: Native Americans and Alaska Natives face higher rates of murder, rape and violent crimes than the national average, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  • The federal agency tallies roughly 4,200 unsolved cases of missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Of note: Colorado and Washington are the only states with a missing Indigenous person alert system, which notifies the public when a person cannot be located, to help with search efforts.

  • Denver police activated the first-ever alert on Jan. 3 for a 27-year-old Indigenous man who was later found dead.
  • The office and Julian's position were established during last year's legislative session.

What they're saying: "We're bringing more opportunities for awareness and being more proactive in providing … resources across the state," Julian, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico, told Axios Denver about the new system.

  • In his new capacity, he will work as a liaison between the state, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Southern Ute Indian Reservation in Southern Colorado, and will help in investigations for murdered or missing Indigenous people.

Yes, but: Some local Native leaders told CBS Colorado they felt left out of the decision process to hire for Julian's position and wanted a candidate with more connections to Colorado and less police experience.

Reality check: The state consulted with multiple organizations in its hiring process, including the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, the Southern Ute Council, and the Tribal and Indigenous Engagement Office of the Keystone Policy Center, according to CBS Colorado.


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