Southern Ute hosts quarterly Tri-Ute Council Meeting

Leadership from the Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribes attend the Tri-Ute Council meeting hosted by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to discuss collaboration, share concerns and updates.
Ute Indian Tribal Chairman, Luke Duncan takes notes during the Tri-Ute Council quarterly meeting.
Lindsay Box/SU Council Affairs
Lindsay Box/SU Council Affairs


Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council hosted the Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribes at the Southern Ute Growth Fund on Friday, Sept. 8 for the quarterly Tri-Ute Council meeting. The Tri-Ute Council meetings are held to discuss collaboration and present issues of shared concern, upcoming opportunities, and updates.

During the June quarterly meeting held in Towoac, Colo., the Tri-Ute Services memorandum of understanding (MOU) was tabled after newly elected Ute Tribal Chairman, Luke Duncan, requested to look into the services to be included in the Tri-Ute Services MOU. At Friday’s meeting, Chairman Duncan reported the Ute Tribe elects not to participate in the MOU with Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute. Instead Chairman Duncan expressed, “We are currently facing a housing crisis in Fort Duchesne and we would like to work on issues such as these for our own Tribal Membership before we open the door for services to other Ute Tribal Members.” Chairman Clement J. Frost and Ute Mountain Ute Vice Chairwoman, Juanita Plentyholes agreed to move forward with the MOU.

The morning session also included guest presentations by SunUte Director, Ian Thompson, Four Corners Power Plant Manager, Arvin Trujillo, and San Juan College School of Energy Dean, Barbara Wickman. Thompson updated all three Tribes on the success of this year’s Team Colorado at the North American Indigenous Games held in Toronto, ON in July. “Exposing the kids to different cultures and how other people value their belief systems is a good opportunity,” Thompson said. Ute Tribal Councilman Ron Wopsock desired that Northern Ute Tribal youth be included in this opportunity. The three Ute Tribes discussed participation in the 2020 games and agreed athletes should begin preparing now and planning for 2020 games to increase Team Colorado’s chances for medaling.

Trujillo and Wickman presented on the Tribal Energy Management Program as well as the Four Corners Future Forum. The Tribal Energy Management Program is designed to enhance the management and entrepreneurial capacity in tribal communities, affording Ute tribal members educational opportunities to step into the oil and gas industry. The Four Corners Regional Economic Consortium will be hosting the Four Corners Future Forum on November 1-2, in Farmington, N.M. to bring together tribal leaders, energy industry representatives, and other local governments to discuss the future of energy development in the Four Corners.

A big discussion amongst the three Ute Tribes was held on the Ute Council Tree cutting. Tribal leadership and guests expressed disappointment and frustration towards the process leading up to the cutting of the Ute Council Tree in Delta, Colo. “The removal of the Ute Council Tree shows disrespect to the Ute Tribes and our traditions,” Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Clement J. Frost said. Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman, Deanne House added, “The State and Delta Historical Society should have allowed the Tribes the opportunity to express concerns and stress the importance of this tree to the Tribes.”

The Shoshonean Language Executive Committee also presented to the leaders of the Tri-Ute Council. The 2017 Shoshonean Language Reunion was held in Fort Hall, Idaho and attended by Southern Ute Tribal Councilwomen: Amy Barry and Lorelei Cloud. The executive committee presented the opportunity for Southern Ute to host the 2018 reunion. Leadership in attendance believed they needed to propose the possibility of collaboratively hosting the reunion to their individual Tribal Councils prior to concurring as the Tri-Ute Council.

The meeting concluded with reports from each of the Ute Tribes. Southern Ute tribal leadership invited the sister tribes to stay and attend the 97th Annual Southern Ute Tribal Fair and Powwow. Updates were also shared on the Cedar Point Housing Initiative. Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman House reported that the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is currently hiring directors for Social Services and Head Start programs. Vice Chairwoman, Juanita Plentyholes added the Colorado Department of Education is requesting a consultation to work on developing new Ute curriculum which will be taught in schools throughout Colorado.

Ute Tribal Councilman Wopsock shared that the Northern Ute Tribe plans to look into their right to hunt in the Brunot area as allowed in the original Ute treaties.

The next meeting will be hosted by the Ute Indian Tribe, date to be determined.

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