This year’s Tri-Ute Leadership Conference took place in Fort Collins, Colo at Colorado State University. The bi-annual conference was hosted by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and was held June 21 through 24, with focus on education and cultural values.
The Conference kicked off Sunday June 21, with a motivational speaker DJ Vanas of the Odawa Nation. His speech covered topics ranging from keeping traditional values to controlling ones own future.
The session got participants to realize their potential and future as well as take control of various opportunities that may arise in life. Vanas used concepts that applied to all participants’ young and old and incorporated cultural values to show how this can apply to a Native American lifestyle.
“It doesn’t matter what you come from. It doesn’t matter what you have. What matters is how you use your life,” Vanas said to the participants.
The Conference continued Monday afternoon and Tuesday, which featured more educational workshops for the participants. Physics, Agriculture and Natural Resources were the three main topics in the workshops across the week.
“Each subject was chosen based on the prominence of each on the three Ute Reservations by the Directors of Education on all three Ute Tribes,” Tanya Amarine, Director of the Education Department for Ute Mountain, and coordinator for the conference said.“This conference has a heavy focus on the sciences … with agriculture relating to Northern Ute, Natural Resources in Southern Ute, and Agriculture with Ute Mountain Ute.”
The Physics workshop allowed students to look at liquid repellant surfaces as well as Hydraulic Engineering and learn how water is measured. The Agricultural workshop outlined what it takes for students to work with plants and animals. Bio-Medical and Natural Resources focuses on a more veterinary aspect and showed participants the ins and outs of animals and tracking.
Education was not the only importance at the Tri-Ute Conference; culture was also incorporated in various sessions throughout the week.
“We wanted kids to be proud of who they are, by bringing in [a balance of] of cultural and educational aspects in support of all three tribes,” Amarine said.
A Bear Dance session was held on Tuesday, June 23, and taught students the Bear Dance origin story as well as etiquette in the corral. For some youth this marked the first time they had ever participated in Bear Dance.
Other cultural sessions included, Drumming and Round Dance led by Councilman Tyson Thompson, and Rites of Passage for boys and girls led by Lynda Grove D’Wolf and Reffel Kanip of Towaoc.
The conference began its last leg with a banquet for students to reflect on their experience. Most participants came away with a better idea on what their higher education might mean to them.
“The conference helped prepare me for the college experience,” says Amya Bison, a recent high school graduate. For younger students, the conference allowed for more future insight on the possibility of college and developing a potential major to pursue.
This year’s Tri-Ute conference is a huge success in the eyes of coordinator Tanya Amarine.
“Huge thanks to all the chaperones, parents [from each tribe] and CSU staff that helped coordinate an event like this,” Amarine said.
The next Tri-Ute Conference will be held in 2017 at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado with the Southern Ute Tribe as the host.