In 2001, the SunUte Community Center opened its doors to Southern Ute Indian tribal members and the La Plata County community. The new recreation space was superior to anything Ignacio had ever seen.
On Friday, Dec. 16 the staff and community gathered in the gymnasium to celebrate the community center’s 15-year anniversary. Through the years the community center has been a welcoming place to the whole community. Whether, it was someone looking for a place to better his or her health, or a community group looking for a location to host an event. SunUte has provided the space in the community to make things happen. The center has been the host of powwows, graduations, numerous birthday parties, and even collegiate basketball games.
At the ceremony, SunUte recognized tribal elder Byron Frost for his work helping get the community center built.
“I’m thankful for this place … a place for [the community] to enjoy themselves and to get the body well,” Frost said. “It’s a healing place.”
Frost said the process of getting the center built started back in 1990 after the old Pino Nuche building was closed down. Frost, his son Brian and Marge Borst started a petition to take to Tribal Council showing the support of the membership for a new recreation center. He and his son traveled the state looking at other facilities to gather ideas on what would make the best center. Finally after years of advocating for the new facility the center was built.
“It was a long, long wait,” he said.
Tribal member Ian Thompson, director apprentice of the community center thanked the past and present staff that has been committed to the center and the community.
“This building saved me,” Thompson said. “I love this place it turned me around.”
Thompson then turned to the logo for the anniversary. The logo designed for the 15-year anniversary was derived from original artwork of the late chairman Jimmy Newton Jr.
Thompson said he had trouble finding a design that he liked so he turned to Drum Composition Tech, Robert Ortiz who ended up coming up the final design – something Thompson was proud of and very thankful for, he said.
Throughout the week of Dec. 12-16 SunUte celebrated with the community and its members with fun competitions between members and the staff. The center also gave away prizes including two free memberships for a year.
Thompson ended the ceremony letting everyone know that there will be some minor changes coming to SunUte within the next year. He said one visible change would be a bigger display of Ute culture in the facility.