Tribe welcomes new leadership

The Southern Ute Tribal Council for 2018.
Southern Ute Chairman Christine Sage gives her first speech after being sworn into office joined by the newest council members Cedric J. Chavez (far left) and Cheryl A. Frost.
Southern Ute council member Cheryl A. Frost is sworn in Monday, Dec. 18 by Chief Judge Chantel Cloud during the 2017 Southern Ute Tribal Inauguration.
Newly elected Councilman Cedric Chavez extends his gratitude towards the membership during the inauguration held at the Sky Ute Casino Resort.
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe held an inauguration ceremony for their newly elected leadership, Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Christine Sage, and council members, Cheryl A. Frost and Cedric J. Chavez. The ceremony was hosted at the Sky Ute Casino & Resort Events Center, Monday, Dec 18.

The morning’s presentations were emceed by the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council, “I’m very excited to see what is in store for the future of our tribe,” youth council member Allisianna Baker said.

“It’s always great to be back in ‘Nuche’ country, especially on such a great day,” Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs Executive Director, Ernest House Jr. said. “It’s because of our past tribal leadership that we are where we are today. When our tribal nations succeed, we all succeed.”

The Tribe held its Runoff Election on Friday, Dec. 15, in Ignacio, Colo., Christine Sage won the chairman’s seat with 269 votes, against Shane Siebel who closed with 206 votes. Candidates who vied for the two open seats on Tribal Council in the Runoff Election include: Amy J. Barry (168 votes), Cheryl A. Frost (240 votes), Dedra White (201 votes), and Cedric J. Chavez (273 votes).

The invocation was given to the membership by Southern Ute elder Vida Peabody.

“I am so humbly honored to represent my tribe,” Chairman Sage said. “I would like to thank the outgoing Executive Officers, Ramona Eagle and Andrew Frost, who have worked hard for the last three years.”

Chairman Sage named Southern Ute tribal member, Esther Rima as her Executive Officer. Mrs. Rima previously worked 11 years with the Southern Ute Permanent Fund’s Finance Department. The Chairman appointed Mr. McKean Walton as Co-Executive Officer on Wednesday, Dec 20. She confirmed that Vice Chairman Alex S. Cloud will remain in his position.

Christine Sage becomes the second woman to lead the sovereign nation. Sage grew up on the Southern Ute Reservation and continues in the footsteps of her father, the late Chairman Christopher Baker.

Former Southern Ute Chairman and tribal elder, Pearl Casias addressed the audience as the program’s guest speaker. “I appreciate your attendance on this historic day,” Casias said.

“I’m very proud to say that while I was the first [woman] to serve in that office, I will not be the last,” Casias said. “May you create your own history with your dedication to your people.”

Dignitaries from state and regional government, along with tribal leaders from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, reinforced a single sentiment — that they wish to uphold strong working relationships and collaborations with Southern Ute leadership. “We have a lot of work on the table, the players change, but the work continues,” Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman, Juanita Plentyholes said.

“We’ve come here as leadership for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe,” Cedric Chavez said. “To everyone who has brought us here, thank you.”

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