The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council is taking advantage of a rare opportunity with the Youth Employment Program by inviting participants to sit in on council meetings.
In the summer program, also known as YEP, young tribal members between 14 and 18 can work for the tribal organization in different departments, ranging from the Woodyard to the Tribal Council.
The current council has taken steps to increase communication to the membership. One such way is by inviting the youth to take a firsthand look at how it conducts business every day.
Summer workers attending a Wednesday, June 26 council roundtable meeting included Jack Frost III, Quinton Cloud and Leon Burch from the Woodyard, Keyana Valdez and Roche Weaver from the Education Department, and ShaRay Rock from the Executive Office.
Vice Chairman James M. Olguin opened up the meeting with introductions and encouraged the youth to give their input.
“This is a first in history,” he said. “It’s your chance to interact with Tribal Council. Today we will be talking about core government, which is vital to the tribe as a whole. We welcome your input.”
As the youth introduced themselves and their workplace, Olguin also gave a brief history of how the Woodyard came to be. He told them how the crew started out as the Reservation Crew and evolved to the Erosion Control Crew and eventually the Reservation Conservation Crew.
Olguin said the employees back then used to cover the whole reservation and learned about it from all sides as they camped out on the mesa and in various places around the reservation for days.
“We have thought about bringing programs like that back. We would like to know what is going on all sides of the reservation, and these types of crews did that for us. They were in touch with the land,” Olguin said.
Council Lady Ramona Y. Eagle asked the Woodyard crew what they liked best about their jobs. Frost said he liked the opportunity to meet people.
“We get to get out and meet tribal members and elders, and everyone is really nice,” he said.
Chairman Jimmy R. Newton Jr. told the workers about his experience working during the summer as a youth.
“I used to work at Grounds Maintenance. I used to work with people who are now tribal elders. Take the time to get to know your supervisors, especially if they are tribal-member supervisors,” he said. “Talk to them, especially if they have many years of service. Conversation could broaden your horizons on choosing a career.”
The youth in attendance expressed their interest in careers ranging from welding and mechanics to sports medicine and psychology. Council Lady Pathimi GoodTracks said each of the careers mentioned has potential employment opportunity within the tribal organization.
Eagle said it’s important for young tribal members to become interested in working for the tribe when they get older.
“We need you as young people to go to school and to work for our departments,” she said. “We need technical people, dentists and medical people. Consider some of the things the tribe has to offer. The tribe is a good place to work.”