Tribal police officers from four tribes were honored Friday, May 23 at the annual Ute Nations Day held at the Bear Dance Grounds.
There were two honorees from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe: Arthur Weaver and the late William S. Thompson.
Weaver, a U.S. Army veteran, started working for the Southern Ute Police Department in 1960 and served the tribe for 28 years before he retired. Weaver’s son, Billy, accepted the award on his father’s behalf.
Thompson, an U.S. Military veteran and former chief of police, was the second Southern Ute police officer honored. His innate ability to communicate with people helped him earn the respect of his people.
“Thank you all for acknowledging and honoring our father,” Williamette Thompson said.
Recognized officers from Ute Mountain Ute were: Raymond Lopez and Tallis Cantsee Sr.
Raymond Lopez people served for nine years as a tribal police officer for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. Lopez was present to receive his award.
“Thank all of you … thank the Southern Ute’s too, most of you are my people … my relatives,” Lopez said. “Thank you for this award, I’ll remember it in a good way.”
Tallis Cantsee Sr., worked for Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Police Department from 1984 to 1999. Even after the Bureau of Indian Affairs took over the police department in 2000, he served as a dedicated police officer till his retirement on Jan 1, 2014.
Ute Mountian Ute Chairman, Manuel Heart accepted the award on his behalf.
For the Northern Ute Tribe the late Jay Mountain Lion was honored.
Jay Mountain Lion began his career as a tribal police officer before becoming a federal police officer. He ended his federal career as Chief of Police of the Unitah Ouray Agency.
“This is very much a pleasure and an emotionally tough time,” Ute Mountain Ute Council lady Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk said. “ I’d like to thank the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for taking the time to honor our people and our heroes,” she said.
Lastly, two members from Jicarilla Apache Nation were honored for their service in law enforcement: the late Raleigh Tafoya Sr., and the late Ishtoken Koteen.
Raliegh Tafoya had a lengthy career in law enforcement serving the Jicarilla Apache people for over 44 years. During his service Tafoya held many ranks and was responsible for installing the current radio communication system used by the Jicarilla Apache nation.
“I have no words we are just honored and happy, thank you Southern Ute [Indian Tribe],” said –Raliegh Tafoya’s son – Avery Tafoya.
Ishkoten Koteen was the last of all honorees and was the only one of the honorees to be killed in the line of duty. Koteen served the Jicarilla Apache Nation for 30 years as a police officer. Koteen was shot and killed during a confrontation with an individual stealing gas.
“Thank you on behalf of the family for the consideration,” President of Jicarilla Apache Nation, Ty Vicenti said. “We need to do this more, honor our people more often.”