Second quarter Tri-Ute Council Meeting held in Towaoc

Members of the Tri-Ute leadership gather at Ute Mountain Ute Casino for their quarterly Tri-Ute Council meeting. All three Ute tribes were represented at the meeting in Towaoc, Thursday, May 31.
Ute Tribe Council Member, Shaun Chapoose, addresses the Tri-Ute leadership while Southern Ute Council Member, Adam Red listens in.
Lindsay Box | Council Affairs
Lindsay Box | Council Affairs

The quarterly Tri-Ute Council meeting was held at the Ute Mountain Ute Casino in Towaoc, CO, on Thursday, May 31. The meeting brought together leadership from the Ute Mountain Ute, Southern Ute and the Ute Tribe. Vice Chairman Cheryl A. Frost and Council Member Adam Red represented the Southern Ute Indian Tribe at the day-long meeting which included discussion of the Tri-Ute Services, a Shoshonean Ute Language Reunion, the renaming of the Gore Mountain Range, Lake Nighthorse, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, Medicaid expansion, and a letter to the University of Denver regarding Ute Tribes’ flag raising.  The meeting was wrapped up with reports from each Tribe.

A long-awaited memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) between the Ute Mountain Ute and the Southern Ute Indian Tribes to provide limited services and resources to members of our sister Tribes is still on the table. Both Tribes are going to identify what services and resources would be available for tribal members residing on the other Ute tribal reservation. This discussion was tabled until next quarter and after services have been identified and cost share details have been agreed upon. The Ute Tribe has opted out of this MOU.

The three Ute Tribes will be hosting the annual Shoshonean Language Reunion in Ignacio, Colo. at the Sky Ute Casino & Resort between July 23-25, 2018. The Reunion will include Ute language and history seminars, workshops on Ute culture such as horsemanship, as well as a parade and a fashion show.

Karn Stiegelmeier, a Summit County Commissioner, attended her third Tri-Ute Council meeting to discuss the renaming of the Gore Mountain Range (named after an Irish aristocrat, Lord St. George Gore). In 1850 Gore, traveled to Summit County on a hunting venture.  Much to the dismay of the Native Americans and military scouts guiding the hunt, Gore wastefully slaughtered many bear, buffalo, elk and deer. Summit County Commissioners have formally approved the name change and seek suggestions from the Tri-Ute leadership. Shaun Chapoose from the Ute Tribe stated, “This is more than just renaming the mountain range. The forced removal has taught us to be cautious and thoughtful of our involvement.” The White River and Uncompahgre bands of Utes were removed from Gore area. The Tri-Ute leaders discussed various names, deciding on an unofficial suggestion. Ute Tribe Council Member Chapoose finished by saying, “let me know if you want to give it back.”

Tri-Ute leadership also talked about the recreational use of Lake Nighthorse. Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute expressed frustration with the recreational use and permitting of motorized boats on water, which was the result of the Colorado Ute Water Settlement. “It is important for us as leaders to pass on the history of that water. Drought is taking our water and we have this big water storage that people are taking advantage of for recreational use,” conveyed Ute Mountain Ute Council Member Deanne House. Southern Ute Council Member Adam Red shared that the recreational use was part of the “fine print” in an agreement with the funder and the Bureau of Land Management.

Vice Chairman Frost and Ute Mountain Ute Council Member Juanita Plentyholes shared that the budget proposed by President Trump called for cutting funding to the Community Health Representative (CHR) program that many tribal communities benefit from. Leadership also shed light on a state change to Medicaid which requires enrollees to participate in community engagement and/or enter into the workforce. Council Member Plentyholes argued that many federally recognized tribes should be exempt from this new regulation per our treaties with the federal government. Tri-Ute leadership also shared the widespread concern of the opioid use and abuse on each reservation. Leaders and staff from the respected Tribes are looking into grant funding to combat this epidemic.

Tri-Ute Leadership also discussed a draft letter regarding the University of Denver raising the flags of the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations on their campus. Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribal Councils agreed to participate in the letter, while the Ute Tribe needed additional time to decide on their participation, tabling the item until next quarter.

The meeting concluded with updates from each of the tribes. Southern Ute shared updates from the Permanent Fund departments, highlighting events that had taken place since last quarter. The Ute Tribe expounded on their fight at the federal level for true sovereignty and self-determination. Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman, Harold Cuthair, wrapped up the meeting with an invitation to attend the Ute Mountain Ute Bear Dance, powwow and other activities taking place over the following days.

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