Culture News

“Tell Me a Story: Nuchu Documentary” at museum

SU Cultural Center & Museum

“Tell Me A Story”

Mique Nuchu,

I want to talk to you today about our latest projects here at the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum (SUCCM).

How many times have you heard a Non-Indian or Indian give false information about Indians?

The “Tell Me a Story” and “Ute Picture Project” are two new projects that are going to help educate the community and possibly the world.

Educating the world is a big task you might say, but when the world has been offered only one side of our story from non-Utes there is a problem.

To help counter this misrepresentation of our native peoples SUCCM proposes, to all Ute Tribal members, the chance to come document your stories of the Ute people.

We are offering either audio recording with transcription and/ or filming with transcription of your stories for the documentary that will follow current museum/archival standards of recording, editing and storage.

By showing a visual representation along with the stories we are providing the reality of our people and our history, and even audio from a tribal member accompanying an exhibit can make all the difference in the world to the visitor.

When non-Indians can see that we are still here visually, see that we too are human, that we are just like them, hear that our voice is the same as everyone else’s, then and only then will the equality of our Indian people come closer to that of the non-Indian in America; especially as those who may one day be in charge of the U.S Government might come here as a child to learn about Indians, so come help us tell our story as history shouldn’t be just his story (one sided).


The Need

The “Tell Me a Story” project will be an ongoing documentary of Ute Stories, traditional or contemporary.

The reasoning behind our project is for our future. When I say our future I mean the Ute future, I think of my grandchildren’s children and whose version of Ute history will be told to them as “fact,” what information will be available to them as being Ute?

I also think back to my own education and the lack of Indian perspective, history, and the void of our representation at all!

Such is the reason that we are preparing for this type of on-going documentary of the Ute.

I am often asked by local non-Indians, in tours, where are the Indians? Where did the Indians go? Why are they gone?

I am also told by local non-Indians “I didn’t even know there was a reservation here and I’m from Durango”.

This lack of collective un-biased history for the American public needs to be remedied, and what better way than to use our collective voice as the sovereign delegates that we are through digital media.

SUCCM is looking for any and all Ute stories that you want to tell for our living documentary.


The Academic Call for Recording Native American Histories

Author William T. Hagan tells us in his article The Archival Captive-the American Indian that “to be an Indian is having non-Indians control the documents from which other non-Indians write their version of your history”.

This is exactly the case as the wide array of Native American archives that weren’t destroyed, embellished upon, and/ or completely fabricated to cover genocidal tracks are unspoken, untouched, unread, and unwanted in the educational system.

This absence of context is taught as “American History”; and we all know what we are bound to do, historically, if we are not informed of our past, repeat it right?

Here at SUCCM we are asking for your help to offer the Nuchu side of the story from our own mouths.

Non-Indians might not be so quick to act towards us negatively if they know we are here, that we have rights, that we are not minorities, and most importantly that we are sovereign nations.

Hagan also relays that there is a problem with the archives that represent Native America for researchers “that problem relates to the provenance of the records. These records are almost exclusively products of white men.”

In the future our children might have those same problems with material available to them that would help them in understanding who they are, where, and who they come from.

Nuchu should make every effort possible to counter that mis-information.

So please help us in our campaign against ignorance, racism, intolerance, and othering of Native peoples through our living documentaries.

In the scholarly article What is a Tribal Archive?, by John Fleckner (senior archivist at the National Museum of American History, chief archivist, 1982-2004), we hear that a tribal archive “contributes to cultural efforts such as these by gathering, preserving, and making accessible a comprehensive body of information about the tribe’s past … a tribal archives places these resources in Indian hands, and thus encourages interpretation of tribal history from an Indian perspective”.

To sum up our newest voyage, SUCCM is in need of help to prevent existing, culturally pertinent, governmentally, and tribally historic information from loss for future generations.

All stories, through film or audio recording/transcription, can be made available (at your request) for research to tribal members and/or the public through the museum archives and websites.

Not to mention, if you desire, your stories might be used in the permanent gallery videos and or exhibits and text as well to ensure the Ute voice is heard for generations to come.


“The Nuchu Picture Project”


The Nuchu picture project is another plan in the works here at SUCCM. We are inviting anyone with historical and contemporary tribal member photos to help us compile a digital photo database that would be available for research to the membership.

This program would be beneficial for all the Ute membership as traditional photography/print paper is degradable and subject to many environmental hazards as well as human error.

Photographs would be handled in accordance with current archival standards and best practices, all photos would be photographed digitally for the archives, made available to the member on CD in a printable format as a token of appreciation and presented when you come to retrieve your original photos.

Both of our newest programs were created with SUCCM’s Mission statement as a guiding force:

“To conserve and promote the history and culture of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and other Native Americans so our young people will always be known and remember what it means to be Southern Ute”


If you have a story to tell, or photos you want copied and archived contact: SUCCM, Education Manager, Tallas Cantsee at 970-563-9583, ext. 3608 or by email at or contact Acting Education Coordinator at Pamela King 970-563-9583.

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