The American Indian College Fund honors Della Bad Wound and Frank Sherwood, two American Indian elders from the Denver community, at their annual Denver Elders Dinner on Tuesday, December 6 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at The Cable Center, the University of Denver, 2000 Buchtel Boulevard in Denver, Colorado. Three hundred American Indian elders attend the traditional buffalo feast, which honors them and offer thanks for all elders’ guidance throughout the year.
The event is free to all American Indians age 55 and older. Entertainment and a visit from Indian Santa Claus is featured, who delivers gifts from local sponsors.
Della Bad Wound said, “I am very happy and excited about the award. I believe there are people who deserve this a lot more in our community, but I am happy to have been honored before I am too old to accept it.”
Bad Wound attended high school and college in South Dakota, where she worked in the human services field with women, youth, elders, and families before relocating to Denver in 1986.
In Denver, she coordinated the Winyan Wašaka Program, a Native women’s wellness program, which was named one of the two 20 preventative programs in the nation in 1988. She facilitated the Tiwahe Project for families in coordination with Eagle Lodge and developed curriculum for the Seventh Generation Project with the University of Denver. She also worked with Four Worlds Development at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Canada for the development and implementation of the Elderhealth Project.
Upon her retirement in 2000, Bad Wound worked for the Linguistics Department at the University of Colorado with the Lakota Language Documentation Project. She attended linguistic classes to help with the work and today provides transcriptions for narratives from Lakota speakers. Her latest work will be transcribing for the Lakota Language Consortium, a forerunner in language revitalization.
Presently Della is on the Elder Council for White Bison, the Wellbriety Movement, and is a member of the Kateri Catholic Community.
Frank Sherwood has lived in Denver for 45 years with his wife, Bessie. He received an associate degree in business administration from Haskell Indian Nations University in 1971 and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colombia College’s Extended Studies program in Aurora. He has worked for Western Electric, the State of Colorado Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He served on the American Indian Program Council (AIPC) for federal Native American employees, a resource for federal agencies and Native American employees, regarding employee issues. He also served as the American Indian Special Emphasis Program Manager for the EPA, and a resource for the Region 8 Administration regarding sensitive Native American cultural and environmental issues. He also assisted the EPA with recruiting, hiring, and training for Native American employees, including coordinating training for Tribal Environment staff in the Denver office. He retired in 2012 after 35 years of federal service.
Sherwood has worked with tribal environmental programs and the tribal colleges and universities to place Native American students for training work experience on reservations.
His community activities include many years managing, coaching and coordinating sporting events for the Native community. He managed and coached the American Indian Higher Education Consortium basketball team, which won the 1980 Indian Community College Basketball Tournament. Later the team won the Colorado State National Indian Activities Association Basketball Championship to qualify for the NOAA Nationals three times, along with the City of Lakewood Park and Recreation Basketball League for three consecutive years. Sherwood also coordinated the Ken Springer Memorial Basketball Tournament for American Indian men and women, and a co-ed youth Indian basketball tournament for the Aurora Title IX Indian Education Program. Sherwood also coached youth flag football and Track and Field for the City of Aurora Parks and Recreation and coordinated the Denver March Powwow All Indian Basketball Tournament, which was held for three years. The tournament drew some of the best Indian basketball teams in the country.
Sherwood served as co-chairman of the Denver March Powwow Committee and the area director for that event for many years. He assisted Dr. Allen Chuck Ross with dance classes for Indian youth, which were initiated into the Grass Society by elder veterans and sun dancers. He organized the Denver Singers to teach singing to Native youth. The Denver Singers have been performing for 37 years.
Today Frank enjoys traveling with his wife Bessie to powwows, art shows, and craft fairs, and spending time with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They are members of the Saint Kateri Catholic Community in Lakewood.Santa Claws (Kiowa), the Native Santa, brings smiles and gifts every year at the Elder’s dinner.