Tribe honors Councilwomen at Ute Nations Day

Former Ute Tribe Councilwoman Irene Cuch, accepts her award and expresses her gratitude to the Southern Ute Tribe and the Cultural department for their support.
Miss Southern Ute Lorraine Watts and Southern Ute Brave Dominick Goodtracks gave opening remarks for the event.
NAGPRA coordinator Cassandra Naranjo gave an introduction to the role of Ute Women and praised the work and dedication of councilwomen.
Former Southern Ute Vice Chairwoman Vida Peabody accepts her award from the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council and shares thanks and appreciation to the Culture Department.
Current Southern Ute Councilwoman, Lorelei Cloud, accepts her award from the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council.
Fabian Martinez | Special to the Drum
Fabian Martinez | Special to the Drum
Fabian Martinez | Special to the Drum
Fabian Martinez | Special to the Drum
Fabian Martinez | Special to the Drum

Members of Northern Ute, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes gathered in celebration for the annual Ute Nations Day hosted by the Southern Ute Cultural Department on Friday, May 26 at the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum.

This year the Cultural Department honored all current and previous councilwomen from the three tribes for their work and contributions within their tribal government and community. Each tribal councilwoman received a gift and certificate of appreciation from the Cultural Department and the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council. The event began with an introduction by acting Youth Advisory Chairman Elijah Weaver, who gave a short presentation on the life and legacy of former councilwoman Sunshine Cloud Smith.

 NAGPRA Coordinator, Cassandra Naranjo followed with a speech on the importance of Ute women and their role in the household as mothers and providers in the domestic sense. “I am proud to see women serve on council, to see how women are an influence,” Naranjo said, a speaker for Ute Nations Day, “We are very honored to have you in our lives.”

“Originally called Ouray Day, the Southern Ute Cultural Department reestablished the event under the name Ute Nations Day with focus on a different theme every year,” Cultural Department Director Edward Box III said. The theme is chosen to honor an aspect of Ute life, culture, government, or service and celebrate those individuals for their contribution to the three Ute tribes. Upon the event’s reestablishment as Ute Nations Day, tribal elders were honored in 2011, Veterans were honored in 2012, and the service of three individuals within the Ute tribe in 2013. In 2014, the Tribal Police forces were honored, Tribal Royalty was honored in 2015 and the Ute-Comanche treaty signed in 1700’s was recognized in 2016.

Councilwomen and their families expressed gratitude and relief to see councilwomen be honored. According to many previous Councilwomen and their family representatives, there has never been an event to honor the councilwomen in the past. It was a long time coming — expressed many of the councilwomen upon receiving their gift.

Northern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute councilwomen ended their speeches, expressing gratitude towards the Southern Ute Tribe and the Cultural Department for recognizing and supporting women in council positions. Many would also give words of wisdom to the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Council and all future women who will become leaders for the tribe and the community.

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