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Commission bids warm farewell to Ernest House Jr.

Colorado Lt. Governor, Donna Lynne read a proclamation from the State of Colorado, proclaiming September 28, 2018, as Ernest House Day during the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs quarterly meeting in Ignacio, Colo., Friday, Sept. 28.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

The Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA), Colorado Dept. of Education, and the Colorado Ute tribes held one final meeting, Friday, Sept. 28, under the leadership of Ernest House Jr., the Commission’s outgoing Executive Director.

Jose Esquibel, Director, Office of Community Engagement, Colorado Office of the Attorney General, took a moment to reflect on House’s career. “Back in 2004, an internship turned into an interim position; then an elected official saw the potential in Ernest, which brought him into the position of Executive Director for the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. “It’s pretty clear that you were the best choice,” Esquibel remarked with a smile.

“Thanks for all you’ve done for the Tribe,” Southern Ute Councilwoman Pearl Casias said.

House was wrapped in a Pendleton blanket, and honored with a song and gifts, in appreciation for his hard work and leadership over the years.

“I appreciate your focus, your determination. You make us proud as a member if the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe,” Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman DeAnne House said. “I wish you best in your personal, and professional life.”

Colorado Lt. Governor, Donna Lynne read a proclamation aloud, honoring the years of dedicated service by Ernest House Jr., and his instrumental role in being a liaison between the State of Colorado and the Ute tribes. The proclamation ended with the declaration — Therefore, I, John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim, September 28, 2018, as ERNEST HOUSE DAY.

House also had the opportunity to share this honor with his family: Mother, stepfather and sisters who joined the CCIA meeting to hear the farewell wishes bestowed upon the Commission’s Executive Director as he transitions into his new role as the senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center.

“I’m really proud of our relationship with our Governor, I hope that continues,” Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Juanita Plentyholes said.

One of the key topics presented during the CCIA meeting in Ignacio, was the Colorado Ute curriculum for education.

CCIA and the Colorado Dept. of Education were proud to present, Nuu-ciu Strong: A Colorado 4th Grade Resource Guide for Colorado Educators, which is finalized and ready for implementation in public schools. The Nuu-ciu Strong resource guide was created in collaboration with educators, the History Museum, the Ute Indian Museum, the Denver Art Museum, several non-profits, and the Colorado Ute tribes and includes 23 lessons to support educators teaching students about Colorado’s Ute tribes throughout Colorado’s history.

“Such an honor to be able to work with the Department of Education on the Ute Curriculum,” House said. “I want to add my appreciation to all who have worked on this — it provides a mechanism for other tribes to do the same”

“We had a commitment to ensure that everything really is from the perspective of the Ute tribes — this is your document, your history,” said Georgina Owen, ELD (English Language Development) Specialist and Title VII State Coordinator for the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education for the Colorado Department of Education. “I believe that we left no stone unturned in developing the curriculum. The goal now is to get the word out and have teachers start using it.”

House was excited to announce that tribal flags currently posted outside of the Lt. Governor’s office, will now be featured even more prominently; acknowledging the Ute tribes and their role Colorado — past and present. “Both tribal flags will be the primary flags you see in the rotunda [inside the Colorado State Capitol], we are also extending the invitation for the Ute Tribe to fly their flag in the State Capitol,” House explained. “Whoever is in this position must respect the sovereignty of each tribe…that is something my father used to say.”

CCIA also played a role in creating Colorado’s first ever Outdoor Recreation Summit of Tribal Leaders earlier this year, encouraging dialogue and tribal engagement. The ongoing Summit series is a collaborative effort among tribes who have an interest in outdoor recreation, CCIA, the Keystone Policy Center, NativeOutdoors, and the newly created Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.  At the initial summit, the focus was on introducing the concept of Native partnership with industry and regulatory organizations, and to give an opportunity for tribes’ voices to be heard when it comes to outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation, according to Eric Thayer, Director of Strategic Planning for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.  A second summit, scheduled for November 7, will build on the previous meeting and focus on Native partnerships with industry, so that companies can better understand the interests and priorities of Native American tribes.











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