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Southern Ute Indian Tribe terminates relationship with SUCAP

Photo Credit: SUIT

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has maintained a longstanding relationship with the Southern Ute Community Action Programs, Inc. (SUCAP). In addition to providing direct financial support, the Tribe, since 1966, has applied for and administered grants from the federal government supporting SUCAP. On Wednesday, August 1, Tribal Council unanimously agreed to terminate the relationship between the Tribe and SUCAP effective December 31, 2018. Official notification was delivered to SUCAP on Tuesday, August 7.

In recent years, Tribal Council has become concerned that the nature of some SUCAP programs had changed and that they were inconsistent with the federal programs that were funding them. Grants which were primarily funded under federal programs intended to principally benefit tribal members or other Native Americans in the community were not being used for those purposes. The Tribe has determined it cannot, in good faith, continue to apply for grants under federal programs where SUCAP may not utilize the funds for the population which they were intended to benefit.

The Tribe has historically funded the SUCAP Head Start program. In originally authorizing the Head Start program, Congress allocated funds for an “Indian Head Start program”. The Tribe is included under Region XI, designated for Head Start Programs operated by federally recognized tribes. Region XI consists of approximately 150 tribally operated Head Start programs designed to principally serve American Indian and Alaska Native families and children. Currently, these programs assist 20,000 children, over 81 percent of whom are American Indian or Alaska Native.  The majority of those programs incorporate cultural and traditional language practices. Per information provided by SUCAP, today the majority of children enrolled in the SUCAP Head Start and Early Head Start programs are non-Native.  Less than 8 percent are Southern Ute tribal members. The Southern Ute Tribal Council feels it is not appropriate for the Tribe to request federal funds allocated to benefit disadvantaged Native American youth when SUCAP does not primarily do so, while taking those funds away from tribal programs that actually fulfill the program’s intent. SUCAP may apply for funds to support its Head Start initiative from federal programs not intended to benefit primarily tribal members.

This has become true of many of the programs for which SUCAP is responsible. The SUCAP job training program, which is not primarily funded by the Tribe, benefits less than eight percent of Native Americans and 0.1 percent of tribal members and similarly, less than 18 percent of the participants in youth programs are Native American.

For many years, the Tribe has attempted to convince SUCAP to identify other sources of funds to support operations.  However, SUCAP has made little effort to do so. On October 11, 2011, the Tribe entered into a tentative agreement in which it indicated it would provide significant financial support for a new facility contingent upon SUCAP raising the additional necessary funds. However, upon learning seven years later that SUCAP had only raised approximately .2 percent of those funds, the Tribe was required to cancel that arrangement.

These and other matters have caused the Tribe to become increasingly concerned about SUCAP’s management. Based on these concerns, the Tribal Council has determined it necessary to discontinue any further relationship with SUCAP. The Tribe has also instructed SUCAP to discontinue use of the Southern Ute name or imply any further association with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

If Southern Ute tribal members have questions, please contact Tribal Council at 970-563-0100 or stop by the Tribal Council Affairs office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. or you may contact the Legal Department at 970-563-2140 or stop by the Legal Department offices Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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