After spending his childhood on the reservation, Farrell B. Howell decided to follow in his family’s footsteps by pursuing a career in education. Like their parents, all three of his siblings grew up to be educators.
Howell graduated from Colorado College in Colorado Springs and moved on to secure a teaching position at DPS. What he loved most about teaching, his wife Beverly reflected, were the kids. “It was all about the kids. He was a principal during the school year and taught swim lessons to little kids during the summer.”
Howell went on to become the first Native American principal in DPS at Grant Middle School. As the years passed, his focus on students never wavered.
“I think what was most important to my father was to see that kids of color had a chance to succeed. We live in a society where Whites have the advantage, and the best in-road for a person of color is education,” his daughter, Sara Howell (Tsu Piluzu – Short Woman) added.
Outside of school, Howell continued his advocacy. Every Native nation determines their eligibility requirements for citizenship, which may include “blood quantum” (a percentage of someone’s Native heritage.) As a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, he worked with the Pawnee tribal government to reduce the blood quantum from one-quarter to one-eighth, so more individuals, like his grandchildren, could become registered members of the Pawnee tribe.
He also dedicated his time to helping the Native community in Denver. “After Farrell retired from DPS, he was involved in the Denver Indian Center. He was a board member and spent time and energy to ensure the center had resources to provide services to our Native community. Because of his dedication to the community, the gym was named the Farrell Howell Gym,” said Denver Indian Center Board Chair, Rose McGuire.
Though he passed away in 2004, Farrell B. Howell’s legacy lives on within the school. Upon entering through the front doors, students are greeted with his photo, the Pawnee Nation flag and a totem pole carved by Sara Howell. Lessons on the Pawnee Nation and Native American culture are taught to students in elementary grades, and the Howells remain staples in the school community.