Commission welcomes Lt. Governor Primavera, tribes voice concerns

Southern Ute Vice Chairman, Cheryl Frost reiterates how important it is for her and fellow council members to be involved in decisions that impact the state of the tribe at the quarterly Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs meeting.
Southern Ute Councilman, Adam Red introduces himself to attendees at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) meeting. Red also welcomed Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, as it was her first CCIA meeting since getting into office at the beginning of the year.
Southern Ute Vice Chairman, Cheryl Frost welcomes everyone to the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs meeting held at the History Colorado Center, Friday, March 22.
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum

The Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) held the third quarterly meeting on Friday, March 22 at the History Colorado Center in Denver. Tribal leaders, royalty and members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe were in attendance.

Chairing her first ever CCIA meeting, Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera called the Commission to order. The meeting began with the approval of minutes from the last quorum and the authorization of the agenda.

Primavera welcomed tribal officials from Ute Mountain Ute and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, she then gave up the mic and let the two tribes give their updates. Both tribes began by welcoming the new Commission Chair and Lt. Governor Primavera to the meeting and expressed gratitude.  “Thank you for all the support and work that we know you will do,” Southern Ute Vice Chairman Cheryl Frost stated.

Primavera is no stranger to leading; she has spent decades dedicated to fighting for affordable quality health care. She has spent years in the public eye working for Coloradans and was first elected to serve in the State Legislature in 2006. In addition to all her achievements, Primavera announced plans to, “work at expanding Medicaid and private-insurance coverage for women’s preventative health care, secure insurance coverage for children who need autism services.”

The biggest concerns that were brought up had to do with water, substance abuse and tribal youth. “We have received numerous grants that will help with our tribal health department and with our youth,” Frost said. Recently, members of the Southern Ute Tribal Council took the time to further educate themselves by attending a suicide awareness and prevention training that was taught by tribal staff.

The training provided the basic skills that are needed when dealing with a suicidal individual and offered a multitude of local and national resources for suicide prevention. “The Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board is working right now to secure more grant funding so that the tribes can obtain that money so we can continue our tribal health programs—not only here at Southern Ute, but also at all the tribal communities that the health board services,” Frost shared.

Echoing Frost’s opinion, Councilman Cedric Chavez thanked the Commission and provided a more in-depth perspective of the affects that substance abuse has on tribal youth. “It’s really common that this [abuse] effects a lot of people, but looking forward I would like to see how we can help our young people be able to make the better choice and pay attention to the impacts that this will have on their futures.”

In addition to health concerns, the tribal update brought up how well the Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division is doing. “They were able to secure a letter of support from La Plata County and from Archuleta County as well for our proposed minor source program, which we anticipate at least two years until the process is to be completed. Those letters have been sent to the federal government at the EPA for any final comments and approval,” Frost stated. In short, the minor source program was designed to protect public health and the environment that is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Currently the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is working to expand the existing water pond, which is used in the event of a drought or other pertinent emergency. “The current water pond allows us to have one day of potable water—so this expansion should hopefully provide us with up to 28 days of water that can be used by the Tribe and by the town of Ignacio,” Frost explained.

With the knowledge of the drought that plagued the Southwest region last year, Councilman Adam Red explains why he agrees with the recent push to have the water storages expanded. “Water is extremely important to us—so with that we have to think of the Tribe and the town and how this will affect their lives, which is why I want to see this moving forward.”

Local education institutions and surrounding communities have also collaborated to create new opportunities to expand businesses. “We’re creating a makerspace, under the guidance of the Economic Development [Department] to build an avenue for tribal members to create their own small businesses,” Red stated. Recently, the Southern Ute Tribe has made new hires to support the newly designed economic development department. While in these roles, they will focus on providing quality job opportunities for tribal members, implementing economic strategies and developing small business ventures.

The next CCIA meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 31, and will be held in Towaoc, Colo.

“I am happy to be working with both tribal governments,” Primavera expressed. “Hopefully together we can collaborate and make this a true Colorado for all.”




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