As a professor, mentor, and activist, Dr. Tink Tinker inspired many generations of Iliff students in his 32 years at the theological institution. He is never shy to express his opinions, thoughts, and insights on social justice and civil rights issues, especially impacting Native Americans. To many who had the privilege to work with him, his intellectual contributions and community activism make him a living legend.

At the celebration of the career of Dr. Tink Tinker (wazhazhe, Osage Nation)’s tenure and achievements (on April 12, 2018), Shattuck Hall was standing room only, filled with family members, long-time friends, former students, and the Iliff community. The celebration also marked the launch of the Tinker Program Endowment Fund that ensures that Dr. Tinker’s educational legacy carries forward, in perpetuity.

Throughout the evening, the audience heard powerful and inspiring stories, words and memories about Dr. Tinker’s lasting impact on the lives of many. Lakota spiritual leader Robert Cross kicked off the celebration with a blessing ritual to the four directions, song and prayer.

Iliff Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Dr. David Worley, shared the wonderful news that that more than 80 percent of the Tinker Program Endowment has been raised. In recognition of Dr. Tinker’s service to the institution, Iliff President Tom Wolfe presented Dr. Tinker with a painting by Native American artist Sam English.

The Denver American Indian community presented Iliff with a beautiful Morningstar quilt in Dr. Tinker’s honor to symbolize a new day with the launch of the Tinker Program Endowment. And several guest speakers recognized Dr. Tinker’s passion, influence, and teachings in his 32-year-long tenure at Iliff.

As the celebration concluded, we walked away with a final word from Dr. Tinker: “I hope this endowment succeeds in establishing an enduring and liberating connection between Iliff and the deep concerns of American Indian Peoples—not only for the sake of American Indians, but for all Americans.

Tink Tinker Career Celebration


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