Election Board certifies Referendum results

Southern Ute tribal elder Arlene Millich voices her concerns during a special meeting with Tribal council following the certification of the Referendum Election votes on Friday, may. 5 in Ignacio, Colo.
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

Southern Ute Chairman Clement J. Frost addressed tribal members and the election board following the certification of votes on Friday, May 5, in council chambers. “We recognize the tribal membership’s voice in regards to the election,” said Frost.

A total of 646 votes, in person and absentee, were cast in the Referendum Election, 611 voted to approve and 35 to disapprove, in an official statement from the Southern Ute Election Board – The Referendum Election passed.

“Tribal Council will meet to discuss the process to distribute funds,” Frost said. “The next step is to set the date.”

Southern Ute Councilman Tyson Thompson stated the funds will be distributed “within 45 calendar days – per the deadline.”

The specific date for distribution of the funds is still unannounced at this time.

“We have to get with the staff and the Chief Financial Officer, Southern Ute Vice Chairman Alex S. Cloud said. “We have to check with them, they do the work,” Cloud said in a statement regarding the process and procedure for distribution of the settlement funds.

“It was good that the membership all came together and voted,” Southern Ute elder Judy Lansing said. “Especially those who live off the reservation.”

These sentiments were echoed by Southern Ute tribal member Marjorie Borst,“This vote said your voice is important. Lets’ go forward without the anger and mistrust.”

Councilman Adam Red hopes to have more involvement from the tribal membership going forward. “We want tribal member involvement, I hope this continues,” he said.

Some tribal members expressed disappointment in the fact that specific details regarding the distribution of funds were not made available immediately following the election.

“It shouldn’t have come down to this point in the process,” said Lansing, who was among those who believed the funds should have been released to the tribal membership much sooner.

Others supported the efforts of Tribal Council in the matter of handling the distribution process for the remaining funds, which were set aside last year from the Sisseton Settlement.

“You came up with a referendum, to me you did your job for the membership,” Southern Ute elder Byron Frost said. “So I thank you – the tribal membership, and the Tribal Council.”

“Let’s look at this positively in regards to the outcome today,” Chairman Frost said. “Let’s leave this room in a good way.”

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