The Ute Indian Tribe welcomed Gordon Howell, Tony Small and Bruce Ignacio as new Business Committee members on Wednesday, April 8.
Howell will represent the Whiteriver Band, Small the Uncompahgre Band, and Ignacio the Uintah Band. Johnna Blackhair, superintendent of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Uintah & Ouray Agency, conducted the swearing-in ceremony.
The new members will each serve a four-year term.
After the bringing in of the colors and songs by Red Spirit Drum Group, Chief Judge Paul Tsosie swore the new members into office. The six committee members then elected among themselves a chairman and vice chairman.
Incumbent Ron Wopsock and Howell each received nominations to be chairman. The council’s secret vote resulted in a tie, with three votes for each man. A second vote yielded the same results.
The Business Committee then went into its chambers to elect the chairman and vice chairman.
After a short, while it was read that the new chairman would be Howell and the vice chairman would be Wopsock. The committee issued a statement saying the election was show of cooperation of working together as a new Business Committee.
The chairman and vice chairman will hold their positions for two years, until the next election for the three other Business Committee members’ seats: Wopsock, Uintah Band; Phillip Chimburas, Whiteriver Band; and Stewart Pike, Uncompahgre Band.
Pendleton blankets were presented to two of the outgoing Business Committee members who were present and to the new members.
The terms of three former Business Committee representatives ended after the swearing in: Frances Poowegup, Whiteriver Band; Richard Jenks Jr., Uncompahgre Band; and Irene Cuch, Uintah Band.
After the ceremony, the audience lined up to congratulate and shake hands with the new Business Committee.