Southern Ute hosts Tri-Ute, CCIA

Members from the three sister tribes
Southern Ute Vice Chairman, Melvin Baker
Members from the three sister tribes gather for a picture marking the end of the third Tri-Ute meeting held this year. The next quarterly meeting will be in December.
Southern Ute Vice Chairman, Melvin Baker, gives a quarterly update to sister tribes, Ute Mountain and Northern Ute, at a Tri-Ute meeting hosted by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Thursday, Sept. 11.
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum

Round three of the Tri-Ute Council meetings took place here in Ignacio Thursday, Sept. 11 followed by a quarterly meeting with state officials and the Colorado Ute tribes Friday, Sept. 12.


The big topic that faced the Tri-Ute Council was tribal services. Tribal services for tribal members that reside on a sister tribe’s reservation.

Services include; burial, housing and transportation just to name a few, Southern Ute Vice Chairman Melvin Baker said.

The goal is for the Tri-Ute Council to agree on a set dollar amount and a set of policies for the services that will be provided to tribal members residing on another sister tribe’s reservation, Baker said.

Southern Ute Councilman Aaron Torres suggested the executive directors of each tribe be involved in setting those dollar amounts and policies since the executive offices are in charge of the administration.

The approval of a memorandum of understanding would mean aide would be provided to Ute tribal members residing on another sister tribes resercation.

“We need to help the other two Ute [tribal members] that are living here on Southern Ute [reservation],” Southern Ute Tribal Chairman, Clement J. Frost said. 

Also, brought to the Tri-Ute table was an invitation from Northern Ute for fellow sister tribes to attend a Tribal Energy Summit meeting in October.

There will be representatives from state and federal levels including a representative from the White House.

“We need to be informed on the things that concern us,” Northern Ute representative said.

Ute Mountain and Southern Ute both took time to update Northern Ute on recreation at Lake Nighthorse.

“We are being patient, we have had numerous meetings,” Ute Mountain Vice Chairman, Juanita Plentyholes said.

The tribes have not come to a final agreement and the lake is more than just recreation to the tribes; the area has great cultural significance as well, Baker said.

Northern Ute also provided an update on their relationship with the University of Utah.

“On Nov 22 [University of Utah] is holding a game in honor of the Utes,” Northern Ute Chairman, Gordon Howell said. “The team is going to have Northern Ute patch on their jersey’s and helmets.”

The university will be selling special edition t-shirts, hoodies and baseball caps with all the proceeds going to the Northern Ute Boys and Girls Club.

“It’s for our kids,” Northern Ute Councilman Phillip Chimburus said.

Cameron Weaver, SUnshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory councilmember, sat in on the Tri-Ute meeting representing the Southern Ute youth.

Weaver got a chance to listen in on the issues facing the sister tribes.


Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribal officials met in Ignacio for their third quarterly meeting this year.

Southern Ute updated state officials about the Tribe putting on a disability awareness campaign for the organization.

“It will focus on teaching employees that people are people first, and the disability comes second,” Baker said. 

The training will be provided to those departments that deal directly with the tribal membership, he said.

Education was also a big topic amongst at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs meeting.

Superintendent of the Ignacio School District, Rocco Fuschetto, updated the state officials on the new schools being built and how important it is to have a good relationship with the Tribe. 

“Next month me and [Southern Ute Education Director] La Titia Taylor, will be attending the National Rural Education Association Conference in San Antonio to give a presentation on how the Tribe and school district work together successfully,” Fuschetto said.

Ute Mountain also focused on youth and education.

“We want the Ute language to be taught at the Montezuma schools; they provide Navajo, but not Ute,” Council lady Priscilla Blackhawk-Rentz.

Superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District, Alex Carter agreed with Blackhawk-Rentz, noting that Montezuma County is the biggest server to Native students in the state with 33 percent of students being Native American.

The Health and Wellness Committee of CCIA is also reaching out to tribal youth. The committee is developing a paid internship program and is looking for Southern Ute and Ute Mountain youth that would be interested in interning for the committee stationed in Denver.

A representative from College in Colorado presented another opportunity for tribal youth.

Students can now participate in College Application Month, and enter into a weekly raffle for a chance to win a $1000 scholarship. Students can visit for more information. 

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