Fri Sep 29th, 2017
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Tags: General Meeting, GF Private Equity, GF Properties Group, Indian Country, Latitia Taylor, Red Willow, Red Willow Production Compan, Southern Ute Executive Officer, Southern Ute Growth Fund, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Three Springs
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe hosted a set of back-to-back meetings to update the tribal membership. The Southern Ute Growth Fund Tribal Membership Meeting, and the General Meeting for Tribal Membership, held Thursday, Sept. 21 and Monday, Sept. 25, respectively. The meetings were hosted by the Sky Ute Casino Resort & Event Center.
“In 2017 we have experienced the benefits of diversification,” said Patrick Vaughn, Growth Fund Operating Director – Non Energy responsible for overseeing the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s off-reservation real estate and private equity business units. Despite fluctuations in gas and oil prices, the Growth Fund continues to perform well since its inception in 2000.
“The Tribe created the Growth Fund as an exercise in Sovereignty,” long time tribal attorney, Tom Shipps said. In 1984 the Southern Ute leadership wanted independent development in order to make better decisions regarding resources. “Once that molecule is extracted and sold off the reservation, it’s gone forever,” Shipps said, referring to the extraction of natural gas and other fossil fuels. “Diversification is the means to secure these opportunities for the Southern Ute people; long after natural gas.”
“The Tribe became economically sovereign,” Shipps said.
Red Willow President, Rex Doyle listed current operations based in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and the Deep-water Gulf of Mexico. “In order to maintain operation, we have to look at new areas,” Doyle said in regards to production levels. Expansion of natural gas extraction on the eastern side of the Southern Ute Reservation is also in the works. Red Willow Production Company also named the recent Samson Assets Acquisition as a means to maintain production numbers locally within the Tribe’s reservation boundaries.
The Growth Fund also introduced an approved plan with the Southern Ute Tribal Council, to keep dividends flat across a four-year period, which allows for better planning. Maximizing tribal employment and career development are also high priorities for the Growth Fund entities. The apprenticeship program, which started in 2003, continues to bring membership into the organization.
In terms of energy production — oil, natural gas and NGL productions are all tied together. The strategy going forward, as presented by the Southern Ute Growth Fund is to operate the assets safely, profitably, and in environmental compliance.
We are a voice for Indian Country,” Southern Ute Vice Chairman Alex S. Cloud said. “We have to maintain the reputation.”
GF Properties Group and GF Private Equity, each play a significant role in maintaining a diversification of income for the Tribe. Properties has new projects underway, with property in Oceanside, CA; apartments in Austin, Texas; continued developments in Three Springs. Private Equity recently integrated with Southern Ute Alternative Energy, and continues to seek investments in areas other than energy and real estate.
“We have to think about the future of the young people, the tribal youth,” Southern Ute Chairman Clement J. Frost said.
Eric Thayer, Director of Strategic Planning, began Monday’s General meeting by introducing the Tribe’s Strategic plan; as a way of establishing a vision, or process for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe going forward. The strategic plan encompasses cultural considerations, the economic landscape and much more, while embracing core values such as sustainability, accountability and heritage. “This is a collective, collaborative effort,” Council Kevin Frost said. “We’re looking for sustainability, especially for the Permanent Fund.”
In regards to the strength and resilience of the Southern Ute people, Chairman Frost emphasized the importance of the Tribe’s constitution. “We must always protect our sovereignty through our constitution,” Chairman Frost said.
Southern Ute Executive Officer, Ramona Eagle spoke on the topics of health, education and natural resources. “ I believe we should support the youth in the initiatives they wish to pursue.” Education was a leading topic for the General Meeting, with Southern Ute Education Director, LaTitia Taylor emphasizing the value and importance of scholarships available to Southern Ute tribal members.
Taylor announced the introduction of cultural programs in the public school system; Ute History will make its debut throughout the state of Colorado for fourth graders. Both meetings were streamed live via Web-Ex for those unable to attend in person.