Dr. Stacey Oberly
James M. Olguin
Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
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Candidate Statements


Friday, December 18, 2020, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

SunUte Community Center



Melvin Baker

Melvin J. Baker

Greetings to all our Tribal Members,

I hope all is well with each and every one of you and your families who live on and off the reservation.  I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and each other. Remember to do your part in regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please take care of our elders and children. 

As you know I am a candidate in the Run-off election for the Chairman seat to be held on December 18, 2020. I have previously written articles in the past two editions of the Drum Newspaper mentioning what I would like to address if elected. There are many things to address and for me I do have concerns of how things have been handled. I feel the only way I can address those concerns for the membership is to run for the Chairman seat and work with the current Tribal Council and the two newly elected Tribal Council members. I would strive to create a really strong working team to address issues each and every day. A good working team can get more accomplished for the membership. It may not be easy, but then again nothing is easy, but as long we are addressing whatever comes our way then we will be just fine.

If elected my plan would be to meet with the current Tribal Council to address any unfinished business that may need to be closed out. Sometimes the Tribal Council may still be waiting on certain information to make a final decision.  

I would also like to meet with just the Tribal Council to discuss what we would like to address in regard to various subjects that pertain to the well being of the membership.  I’m not saying tear everything down and start over but pick up where the current Tribal Council left off. Once discussions have taken place we would need to work on prioritizing, setting goals, and timeframes for completion. I believe that seven elected leaders could come up with many things we feel need to be addressed for the membership. 

There are many things I feel are important to our membership:

  • Our land, our language and culture.
  • Various rights like hunting and fishing.
  • Housing – we need to create more housing for our tribal members. Create more scattered housing sites for our tribal members. 
  • Water – protect our water rights on all seven rivers that flow through our reservation. Discuss our water rights in regard to Vallecito Dam and Lake Nighthorse “ALP”.
  • Employment- is always something needed for our tribal members. Discuss what is needed and how we can create job opportunities for tribal members who would like an opportunity to work for their tribe. Remember back in the day when the tribe was run by a majority of our tribal members, our parents, our uncles and aunts or other relatives. Today it is not that way as we all know.
  • Casino – what is going to be the best ideas for moving forward.
  • The Growth Fund – where are we currently at in regard to losses and gains, where are we going. Do we need to change course or is everything just fine?
  • Permanent Fund Services – are we getting the most out the services that are being provided to the membership. Evaluate each and every Department/ Division to see if we in fact need to change certain services or not.

There is so many things that we all feel needs to change within our Tribal Government. If elected I will do my best to work with the Tribal Council to address issues that come before us each and every day. In closing I Humbly ask for your support on December 18, 2020. 

I want to wish everyone of you and your families a Safe and Happy holiday and May the Creator Bless and Protect us all. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call at 970-769-2763.

Happy Holidays,

Mel Baker



Lorelei Cloud

Lorelei Cloud


My name is Lorelei Cloud and I am running for Chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. 

I give thanks to my ancestors and past leaders for their commitments and labors for making it possible for our Southern Ute Tribe to be blessed with success in the modern world. Today all of us to have these riches because of them. As an example, we can see with our own eyes our beautiful building, our athletic and ceremonial parks and the new skate park. There is a place for everyone. Our children have an amazing array of opportunities to follow their dreams, be it for arts, science, or business.  They can go to anywhere in the world to pursue their education.  I know no other tribe that offers this gift. I completely support these systems and when they return, they will enrich our lives in a good way. We can add to their character by celebrating our Ute traditions with them. 

I must take a moment to thank and honor Leonard C. Burch for his visionary and successful plans for our tribe. His worldly experiences taught him to plan for future generations. He loved us all. We are a model for other tribes seeking to better the lives of their people. My grandmother, Sunshine C. Smith and Leonard C. Burch are my inspiration. They taught me to love our Ute ways as well as my lifelong love for Sundance, Bear Dance, singing our Ute songs as well as teaching my children to keep the Ute ways alive. 

I have been on Tribal Council for the past five years and I have observed that we have been operating on a failing system causing disharmony among our people. The Tribal Council is voted in by the Tribal People and I intend to strengthen that power for you. Power is achieved with clear communication. I will have a set schedule of monthly town hall meeting and quarterly meetings for the next three years, as well as mentorships for our members with directors and division heads. Please understand that I will always listen to your concerns. 

I am committed, I am dedicated, and I am devoted to make good on my promise to encourage all members to understand and participate in our polices and actions.  This beautiful reservation is our only home and I embrace the opportunity to make it a harmonious community. I will leave a legacy with a foundation of truth, innovated solutions and the pride to be a Ute. I promise with my whole being to honor every member and will be a model of care and transparency. I will stand by you and we will walk the great Red Road together with the blessing from our Great Creator.

Lorelei Cloud



Linda Baker

Linda K. Baker

Machaa Piinu-nuu-chi,

I would like to begin my Tribal Council candidate statement by thanking the individuals who voted for me on November 6. I am humbled and honored to be a run-off candidate because of your vote of confidence. Tuvuchi toghoy-aqh! I would also like to acknowledge the candidates from the first round of the election process, and say I appreciated the dialogue among us.

As stated in the October 23, 2020 Southern Ute Drum, I listed three general platform statements:

Tribal identity: Language, Culture, Enrollment

Equal opportunity: Programs, employment, Off-reservation access

Quality assurance: Finance, Performance, Accountability.

When I think of tribal identity, I think of my grandmother, Edna Russell Baker. Much of my early childhood was spent with her until I entered kindergarten. My grandmother remained an influence in my life, teaching and showing me what identified clothing, gloves, cradleboards, and dancing as Ute. “She told me stories about Ute history and animals, tribal etiquette, songs for plants, and our particular family relationship with the people of Taos Pueblo and the Oglala Lakota Nation. Our father, Archie Baker, began to teach Ute to his two grandsons. I have a memory of the three of them playing cards and learning and speaking Ute numbers, face cards and card suits. The only thing I remember now is that Clubs was called Cat’s Paw.

Our Ute identity needs to go beyond a memory and become a reality. We need to remember, honor, and learn as much as we can to retain our tribal identity. Identity also includes who our tribal citizens are based on enrollment. I would like us to redetermine our own tribal citizenship as an act of sovereignty. Tribal community discussions need to occur, because enrollment is a time-based issue that will undoubtably have an impact on the future of our tribe.

Equal opportunity is about establishing programs, employment and off-reservation access. Based on what I learned as part of the Tribal Health Benefits committee, there is a need to establish an assisted living center and a tribal/community dialysis care center. Another need is to establish a tribal veteran’s program/office to address issues and services on behalf of tribal veterans.

Equal opportunity also includes employment. During my internship at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, one of my job responsibilities was to represent the Commission at a Native focus group that was part of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS). Because of my education and museum background, I was “looped” for employment at DMNS. Based on my experience, I believe tribal individuals who have a formal education, work experience, or a skill set can be “looped” into employment. One idea is to provide opportunities to conduct, or contribute, to innovative projects on our reservation, such as environmental, community or cultural/culturally sensitive research.

Equal opportunity also includes the establishment of an off-reservation representative or position. I believe a point of contact is needed to specifically address concerns of tribal members living outside the exterior boundaries. Having a central point of contact would also create an overall record of concerns, questions, responses and outcome.

Quality assurance of finance, performance and accountability have one common theme: Our people, our culture, and our land are the first priority. Therefore, Permanent Fund finances and services need to be efficient and transparent, with overall accountability and focus on our cultural values and economic goals.

In closing, I am a team player who will make a commitment toward the overall well-being of our tribal citizens, our culture, and our reservation. I would appreciate your vote on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.


Linda Baker



Dr. Stacey Oberly

Dr. Stacey Oberly

Dear Southern Ute Tribal Membership,

I respectfully request your vote to serve on Tribal Council on Friday, December 18, 2020.  When I am elected, my leadership vision is to serve the tribal membership with clear Communication to create Unity and Transparency while adhering to our traditional cultural Ethics.  I would also like to successfully work with the membership, Council and our staff to develop these important initiatives.  


From the comments and suggestions from numerous tribal members, our voices need to be heard.  It would empowering to ensure that our members have input on the content of our General Meetings, both in person and virtual, via a survey.  

To empower our membership in regard to services provided by the Tribe, the use of a ticket system, similar to the system used by Shared Services, would ensure that each request is fulfilled quickly and professionally. A Customer Service Task Force which consists of volunteer tribal members and staff who would monitor the ticket system, report the satisfaction levels of the membership, and make recommendations for improvements to administration.  

There is a clear, resounding need for empowering our tribal membership. We get to establish a comprehensive initiative which ensures that we THRIVE not just survive.  A key component will provide support so that our membership develops CAREERS via Tribal Member Empowerment Initiative.  This will ensure that our membership is able to advance into higher level positions within our tribal organization, if they decide to do so.  

Additionally, we get to form a Tribal Member Employee Retention Program, similar to the Growth Fund’s Tribal Employee Retention program.  This program will ensure that our tribal member employees are retained, mentored, and supported in a proactive and professional way.   


Knowledge is power.  Listening builds trust and is necessary for healthy relationships.  For this initiative, I would like to see us come together and creatively find ways to improve our communication and transparency.  We need to ensure that all tribal members have access to timely and accurate information regarding issues that are important to our financial, health, and emotional wellbeing.


Our success as a tribe is based on our financial sustainability.  We need to ensure that we are following the Financial Plan closely.  The Financial Plan has proven to be successful if followed correctly.  

As stewards of the earth, we get to develop a sustainability initiative which develops greener practices on our reservation.  This may include developing solar for not only the homes of our membership but also in our tribal buildings.  We are the only tribe in Colorado that does not grow our own food, we get to develop our own food sovereignty practices as well as recycle. 


With only 32 fluent Ute speakers, it is imperative that we take immediate and effective methods to document our language.  This may entail establishing a department/division whose sole purpose is to focus on documentation, developing a master-apprentice program to train tribal members to speak Ute and develop multimedia Ute language learning material.


Dr. Stacey Oberly



James M. Olguin

James M. Olguin

Greetings to all, 

I am James M. “Mike” Olguin and I am humbly and respectfully asking for your vote on December 18, 2020.

I have been in service of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and you, the membership, for 40-plus years.  I worked my way into various managerial and leadership roles, which entailed making decisions that have benefited the Tribe and membership.  Some of the decisions I was involved with may not have been agreed by some tribal members, but were made with the mindset that “the many must be served and not just the few.”

While I may not hold a college degree, my 40 years of training, experience and knowledge in our tribal government are directly in line with the Tribe’s vision and mission which can be labeled as on-the-job training.  I remember when we were a poor Tribe and I have working knowledge of how we got to where we are now, as a prosperous Tribe.  I have worked with Federal, State and other Tribal governments and determined if it would benefit our Tribe and the membership.   

We, as the People of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe are in need of continued growth and evolution to continue building our strength and future for generations to come. Many of you tribal members have sacrificed to help do your part to lead us to where we are today. Yet the work is not done and will always require individuals who know and understand where we came from, where we are and where we need to go. Visions of our future come in many forms and take experienced individuals who can deliver on those Visions. 

Our tribal government continuously faces many challenges and we, as the membership expect our government to deliver benefits and services that are designed to bring comfort and peace of mind, that we are taken care of for our continued existence and survival. We have survived many obstacles and attacks on levels that tests our abilities to govern ourselves to ensure we protect our way of life.

I have heard some good questions being asked; one being, what are you looking for in a person to be elected as a Council Member. To me, the answer is simple, I know I look for elected leaders who work hard for us, to be ethical, knowledgeable in tribal government, have empathy, compassion, to have a passion for our tribe and our people, to lead, and NOT by a strong fist but with a hand that is reaching out to help in times of need and struggles. A person who also shares the good with all, in a manner that is beneficial, not creating dependency, but builds on our strengths and skills to be self-sufficient.

We all must realize that the Tribal leaders must work together to progress, not work against each other, as that only divides us and it slows progress when this occurs.  The leadership can have individual plans and ideas of what is needed to make progress but those ideas will never come to fruition unless we can talk, discuss, debate and decide amongst ourselves for the good of our people and resources. In the past, we have for too many decades depended on others to tell us what to do. We now have the ability, capacity and capability to tell others what we want and expect, especially with our membership becoming educated, knowledgeable and experienced with a voice demanding accountability and transparency. Your voices must be heard and acted upon. 

My career has developed my ethos as being one of Wisdom, Knowledge, Leadership, Experience, Service, Dedication, and Vision. I have developed a process of when I speak, I do so with thought and an intent to add value to the conversations and get people to think forward as to what the discussion may entail as to the decisions being made, but most importantly bringing a tribal member perspective to the table that represents all, and not just a few.

Many of you who have come to know me and how I work. A day’s work for a day’s pay has been engrained in me from when I was a young man and to do the best I can with the resources and tools I have. Those that don’t know me, I can honestly say your vote for me will bring you a person who will work hard in your best interest as a tribal member regardless of who you are.

We, as one of the older generations have to realize and accept the fact that the future existence of our people and tribe is in our younger generations. We know who we are and have known this for many generations. We know where we come from, but the question that faces us today is where do we want to go and be in the future. 

I believe in our youth as building blocks for our future existence. We have a generation of young members who have dreams, desires and ideas and most importantly a voice that can’t go unnoticed or unheard. As young voters, your votes do matter as to whom you elect. All I ask is that you choose wisely on who can deliver results in the position of an elected leader. I have confidence in my ability to do this. 

I know many tribal members are asking for change, yet change in what direction and why, is a question that must be answered. Change is not a simple task that can be done without due consideration of the consequences and implications for “all” tribal members. Some changes can be a policy modification or development of a new one or simply eliminating some. Other changes may require legal authority to do so and may require code revisions, or development but could also involve our main authority, which is our constitution.

Change has to have a reason and purpose to accomplish a desired outcome and in order to implement change, there has to be knowledgeable and experienced individuals in tribal governmental matters to carry out any change for the entire membership.  Evaluation of our constitution needs to occur utilizing our own members and experts to develop the reason. As examples: My Reason is due to the fact the Federal Government’s role in tribal government and business has become obsolete or is becoming more nonexistent. Agencies that work with tribal governments are being under funded or not funded at all. Staff recruiting and retention is becoming more and more difficult and is challenging to keep experienced staff. Expertise is being surpassed by our tribe but not all tribes are as fortunate as we are.

As an example, the Constitution of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is a document that was adopted by our past leaders and serves us still today, but is in need of changes as well. It was adopted as a U.S. government boiler plate constitution that many other tribes adopted as a means of government structure. Now changing or revising our constitution requires a lot of work and is not a simple task of just saying let’s change it.

Purpose for changing our constitution is due to the need for us as a tribe to have our own ability and action to decide for ourselves what is in our best interest outside of any Federal Oversight and delays. I see this in code development and revisions, approval of leases and rights of way (R-O-W), etc.

The discussion to start the process of evaluating our constitution and the process to involve our membership thru assigned tasks, focus groups, work sessions, document development, and legal review with intent to deliver transparency and accountability would be the starting point.  The outcome I desire is a modernized document that is interpretable and defensible with ability to change and revise as needed addressing the will of the people. The will of the people is the most important component of any change to the constitution. The people will be required to vote in a Secretarial Election initially, as required by our current constitution.

Another example is our Financial plan which is currently 20 years old and has had very minimal yet substantial changes over the past years. Efforts to revise and change it are currently underway and have been for at least the past 5 years, 5 years to long. I have heard many people say we need to stick to the plan, yet I wonder how many people have seen it, let alone, know what it says?  In areas of the Financial Plan, there have been deviation from the plan, but for justifiable reasons, some of those reason I voted on as a councilmember. Why do we need to revise and change it? My reason is due to the fact its 20 years old and our tribe and membership have evolved and grown with different expectations of today. Our plan needs membership involvement and participation lead by Tribal Council to ensure the process is transparent where membership input is encouraged and welcomed. 

The Purpose for a revision is so the plan allows future growth in a manner that takes into consideration the needs of our membership not only fiscally but service wise as well. Budget analysis is important to this process as revenues are needed in order to have the ability to spend. Our membership trends need to be in the mix of all this as the more our membership grows, not only by numbers, but by age as well, will be factors to take into consideration for plan revisions.

Outcome of a plan revision is to have a visionary component that future councils can rely on to plan and guide our future towards fiscal longevity. A plan that requires periodic planned review and adjustments to meet the needs of our people and tribe into perpetuity as originally stated.

Our tribe has accomplished so much in the past and is striving to continue to do so into the future. This responsibility is bestowed on our elected leaders and decisionmakers. Decisions that call upon those that can decide in our best interest of today, but also for our next generations to come. 

Your Vote matters not only to you, but to all of us. Your Vote for me, is a vote of confidence that we will strive for continued growth, evolution, and progress while keeping close the fact that I know where we came from and what it took to get where we are today. 

Vote Friday, December 18, James M. Olguin. 

I thank you in advance of your support.

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