When he looks around at schools, politics, and even language in the United States, Tink Tinker sees that what he calls white Christian colonialism is alive and well. A member of the Osage nation, the retired professor spent his career at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology teaching people about indigenous cultures. Iliff has launched a program to continue Tinker’s work.
During a wide-ranging interview, Tinker tells Colorado Matters that as recently as the mid-1970s, Iliff itself had a book on display that was a gruesome example of how colonialism was still evident on school grounds. The book was presented as a special gift to Iliff by a Methodist minister in 1893 shortly after the school’s inception. It was a rare book — a history of Christianity dated 1759 — bound in the flayed and tanned skin of a murdered American Indian.