Fri May 2nd, 2014
Southern Ute Drum
The Southern Ute Tribal Council is currently in the process of reviewing the tribe’s Financial Plan. Reviewing the Financial Plan is not uncommon; the Financial Plan has been reviewed a few times since it was established in 1999-2000. With amendments being made in 2004 and 2008, Darrell Owen, chief financial officer of the Growth Fund, said.
It’s too soon to tell if amendments will be made after this review, but Council Lady Pathimi GoodTracks, and Councilman Alex S. Cloud, sat down with the Drum to explain some of the reasons behind reviewing the Financial Plan.
The Financial Plan is a big part of the tribe and it is an essential tool that has been enhanced from its original state, Cloud said.
“The world has changed so much since then [original plan] and the financials have changed too … we are trying to make sure there’s money for those in the future,” Cloud said.
Regularly monitoring the plan is important in determining the overall financial well being of the tribe, GoodTracks said.
“It’s improvements we’re looking for,” she said. “The original plan was a basic structure that provided for things that existed then … they didn’t write the plan thinking we’d come so far.”
Cloud agreed with GoodTracks noting that the tribe has exceeded the original plans’ expectations – the original plan was supposed to last for 25 years, he said.
Keeping the plan up-to-date is a challenge in and of itself, but council is also tasked with making critical decisions that will impact future members, GoodTracks said.
“When reviewing the plan, the current membership are not the only ones to consider, we have to think about those who made sacrifices in the past and those 50 to 100 years from now,” she said. “We want to leave them [future tribal members] better off then we are today, just like the ones before us did.”
One of the main focuses of the review is to ensure preparations are in place when the time comes that the tribe’s financial strength begins to decline, GoodTracks said.
“The tribe should always know what to do, whether times are good or bad,” she said.
To keep the plan moving fluidly, GoodTracks and Cloud mentioned that there is discussion about having a long-term individual on board who knows the Financial Plan extensively.
There are new councilmembers almost every election. And Tribal Council often loses precious time bringing newcomers up to speed on the logistics of the Financial Plan, Cloud said.
“You know, we were all part of a different piece of the plan. Some know about the beginning and others know about different parts,” he said. “Having someone that knows the ins-and-outs of the plan would help answer questions more easily and help future leaders understand it.”
Another part of the plan that can be over-looked is how the plan empowers the tribe’s sovereignty, Cloud said.
“Having this plan in place helps us keep our sovereignty,” he said.” Other tribe’s are fighting for their sovereignty but we are able to take care of our own people and spend our money they way we want to.”
The Financial Plan has also helped the Southern Ute Indian Tribe become a financially prominent tribe throughout Indian Country, Cloud said.
“We are a ‘model’ tribe … we’ve built our reputation by exercising our sovereignty and we have ensured that we are stable, and a lot of that comes from being good planners.”
The plan is complex and requires careful review, GoodTracks said.
“There are no over night changes … it’s not an easy process – it’s an ongoing process.”