Special Election 2015: Statements from the candidates

Below you’ll find statements from four of the six candidates vying for a seat on the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council. A Special Election will be held Thursday, Feb. 12 to fill former Councilman Howard D. Richards’ seat on Tribal Council. The candidate receiving the most votes will serve out the remaining nine months of Richards’ term.

Southern Ute Tribal Council candidates Joycelyn Peabody Dutchie and David Latham did not submit statements.


Jake B. Ryder

Hello my name is Jake Ryder

I am running for the Tribal Council special election seat February 12, 2015. I would like to ask you for your support and your vote. I would also like to explain to you what I am trying to achieve if elected, I am going to take this nine months term as learning curve to learn the job and the duties that I would need to perform as a tribal council member. Now I can’t make any promises that can possibly be fulfilled in a nine month term other than my door will always be open to the Tribal membership to listen to their concerns and ideas for a better membership. So when it comes time for the next election for a full-term seat I will be more then capable and confident to be an effective council member. To help the membership in the same long-term goal which is to better our tribe, our people, our economy and to keep our Culture and Heritage strong within the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for the Generations to follow.

Thank you very much for your time and hope to see your vote on the ballot for Jake B. Ryder come February 12, 2015

Thank you for your support

Jake B Ryder


Ramona Y. Eagle

Miqu’ Nuuchi,

My name is Ramona Eagle. I am vying for the Tribal Council seat in the upcoming special election. I am the daughter of the (late) Clifford H. Eagle and Annabelle W. Eagle. I have two daughters and four grandsons. I come from the Capota Band of the Utes and live in La boca area of the reservation. I participate in our tribal ceremonies – the annual Spring Bear Dance, our Sundance and our Southern Ute Fair.

My employment experience included the position as the Tribal Employment Rights Compliance Officer, then promoted as the TERO Director which included other duties as the Adult Vocational Training Coordinator and the Administrator of the Native American Veterans Program. I was employed at the Sky Ute Casino Human Resource Department as the Employment Specialist. I enrolled in the Casino Tribal Member Career Development Program(CDP) and attended several Casino gaming operations training. I graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Personnel and Human Resource Management. After receiving my degree, I was employed as the Casino Development Program (CDP) Manager position then was promoted to the Casino Human Resource Director position.

In 2004, I was elected to the Southern Ute Tribal Council and have served three terms. I have also served as the Tribal Treasurer. I was the Tribal Council liaison to the Growth Fund Committee, the Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee, the So. Ute Academy Parent Committee, the SUCAP Board, the Tribal Pension Committee and the Tribal Budget Committee.

I believe with my past work experience and serving on the Tribal Council, I am knowledgeable of the issues and priorities that the Tribe faces. The Tribal Council has implemented the Guiding Principles, the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and a priority list as tools which aid the Tribal Council to make good decisions in regards to the health and welfare of our people, the education for our children and grandchildren, our lands and law enforcement to name a few.

This year, I would like council to implement a tribal focus group so the membership has a voice of the services that are provided. The focus group meetings can review the current services to determine if services is adequate or if changes are needed i.e. benefit the many and not the few. To identify possible cost of changes, capital requirements or government policy changes.

Lastly, I encourage the membership to go to the polls on February 12 to elect the person that is knowledgeable, fair, accountable and speak on the behalf of the membership concerns.

Tog’ oiak’

Ramona Eagle


Bernie Cuthair

I am son of the late Darlene Cuthair and McGarey Gallegoes of Ignacio, CO and the grandson of the Belle Cuthair from Ignacio, CO and Curtis Cuthair of the Ute Mountain Indian Tribe from Towac, CO. I have raised my two daughters. Noel Cuthair that resides Phoenix, AZ and Rebekah Cuthair that resides in North Plains, OR.

I started working for the Tribe back in 1987-2004. . I worked in Natural Resources, Energy Department and Justice and Regulatory as I advanced up through the ranks of the Tribal Organization. I understood and developed Tribal Policy and Procedures, Revised Tribal Codes and Prepared Annual Budgets. I am currently retired from my last job where I worked as Underground Coal Miner Contractor.

My Platform is to “Give the Tribal Members my hard work and dedication and keep you all close to my new heart”. I am no: a perfect man but I am a humble man and worked hard for everything I have achieved in life. My role of a Tribal Council man will be to hold myself accountable. I will base my decisions and actions for the good of the whole tribal membership to lead us forward by example.

Wasteful Spending can and must be reduced. I feel action to reduce wasteful spending will start at the Tribal Council level. I will use personal knowledge, wise judgment and common sense when casting my votes on behalf of the membership. With the membership’s support I will in turn hold the entities of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe accountable. I will be very supportive of our hard working employees that keep the tribe moving forward. Common Sense and working knowledge of the organization and interaction is must.

Tribal Elders and Education of our Youth are the future. The knowledge from our elders of our Culture is key. Our youth must become educated and know where we came from and all the sacrifices made by our elders and their 21ders for the land and water we have.

Natural Resources must be managed and protected for the future use of our children’s children. I see many more young tribal members out hunting and fishing every year. We need to limit the non-indian impact on our lands and reserve the usage to the membership. Our deer and elk population is dwindling as you don’t see the deer or elk like you use to. Once the Natural Gas is gone so is the big money associated with it.. Be prepared for it. Non-Indians STEAL our Irrigation water all summer long.

Housing – Assignments for home sites need to be made available for the membership. Our tribal members need housing. Some of Elders need their homes repaired. Our Tribal Housing Program needs to be re-structured and have accountable personnel put in place to ensure quality work and timely completion of home repairs. Sick of hearing that is out of the SCOPE of our work.. Water hauling costs and scheduled deliveries to rural homes costs need to revisited and adjusted.

I humbly ask for you: vote. I will do my best for you in this short term as your Tribal Council Man. The membership can evaluate my drive and commitment of hard work. My heart is with you all and I will work hard for. You will not be forgotten as many have you voiced your concerns to me. My door will always be open and will come to see you as well. Get out Vote for the Candidate you feel will stand up and professionally represent you when the time comes. My personal cell # 970-799-6077 should have any questions or concerns. Give me a call…

Please join me for a Meet and Greet at the Southern Ute Multi-Purpose Room on Feb 6th 6pm-8pm. Dinner will be served. You can call me at 970-799-6077 to RSVP or give me a call just to talk..


Shelly L. Thompson

I am Shelly Thompson and I am running for the vacant seat on Tribal Council in the upcoming election Feb 12, 2015. I am respectfully asking for your vote.

The relationship our Tribe has with its Membership is the most important relationship and we need to live by the concept of Tribal Members First.

In the letter I sent to you all, I discussed helping our Tribal Members with Housing, Land Code, Police Department, Children, Veterans, Tribal Elders/Disabled, and Emergency Family Services. A recap of those ideas are: money for down payments, additions or renovations of tribal homes as well as put solar panels on tribal homes; update the Land Code to be more Tribal Member friendly; train Tribal Police Officers on our culture and communication skills; have programs that motivate, encourage, and show appreciation to our children; provide an office to assist our Veterans with VA services; provide Tribal Elders/Disabilities with the special care they deserve and increase funds for Emergency Family Services. Next I want to expand on Housing, Land Code, Children, and Tribal Elders/Disabled.

Housing: We need a program that helps educate our Tribal members on home ownership if we want to provide money to families. Workshops could be on the process of being a homeowner, basic home repair and maintenance, and landscaping. The new Tribal Credit Mortgage Program is a perfect start to these educational workshops.

Land: The current process used for a land assignment is a lottery. As it is now, you can find the perfect place for your home on our beautiful reservation, but you are not guaranteed that spot you picked because all Tribal Members looking for assignments can put their names in the hat for that section of land. The Land Code needs to be updated so that applying for an assignment is a simple but fair process.

Children: Along with incentive programs for our children, we also need to provide life skills such as healthy cooking, sewing, such as home economic classes so our children will have some life skills as they enter adulthood. These types of skills assist children in gaining confidence which will aid in all aspects of their lives. In these classes cultural teachings can also be included in the learning, this way our younger Tribal Members receive benefits on many levels. Adopt a grandparent program could give our youth more knowledge of our Ute culture as well as learn stories that have been passed down.

Tribal Elders/ Disabled: A good quality of life for our Elders and Tribal Members who have a disability includes home health care, which we have but is limited; people to come help these individuals with house work, yard work as well as other needs they may have such as just visiting. As mentioned above, adopt a grandparent program can help our children as well as may assist our elders with getting out of their home on a social basis and give them the opportunity to pass on any traditional or cultural teachings they may want.

The ideas I have are about our Tribe coming together to help each other traditionally, culturally and spiritually. Our Ancestors lived in a way we were a community who helped each other and those who competed with each other were not the norm. Competing behavior divided the people, which was part of the destruction of the Indian people by the Federal Government, divide and conquer. We, the Southern Ute people need to become more of a community. We are stronger when we come together, Utes are a strong people, and we know this from our history and stories passed down from our Ancestors. We again need to stand in our power.

Once we, as Southern Utes, know our power as a people when we stand together and there will be no limits. The definition of limits is: The premises or region enclosed within boundaries; to restrict by or as if by establishing limits. The Sky Ute Casino Resort uses the saying, The Sky’s the Limit, but in really the universe is the limit because it does not end. So our people need to have no limit in what WE can do for our own people and what WE can for each other and once we put boundaries on each other we no longer are a community and we close ourselves off. This puts the responsibility in us, Tribal Members, to think in this manner as well as ensure we VOTE for Council Members who have the same ideas of limitless opportunities, limitless assistance for each other. The only way to achieve these limitless possibilities is for us to all work together and come together as a People so those who have set limits for themselves and others are not putting limits on the Tribe as a whole.

We are human, we are Ute, and we are strong, resilient, adaptable, and limitless.



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