Indigenous Day: Utes honored in Placerville

A presentation at Mountain Village Core included a proclamation to all Native Americans and performance by Ute Mountain Ute dancers and singers. Roland McCook, Northern Ute, at the podium was one of the event organizers. From left to right: Southern Ute Acting Culture Director and Sun Dance Chief Hanley Frost, Ute Mountain Chairman Manuel Heart, McCook, Mountain Village Mayor Martin McKinley and San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes.
“Dedication to the Utes” memorial plaque honoring the Utes at Placerville Park in Placerville, Colo.
Hanley Frost, Southern Ute Acting Culture director and Sun Dance Chief speaks to attendees at the Mountain Village Core during Indigenous People’s Day in Placerville, Colo. Saturday, Oct. 8.
Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Clement J. Frost speaks at the last Indigenous People’s Day event at the Sheridan Opera House.
Waylon Plenty Holes | Weenuche Smoke Signals
Waylon Plenty Holes | Weenuche Smoke Signals
Waylon Plenty Holes | Weenuche Smoke Signals
Waylon Plenty Holes | Weenuche Smoke Signals

In lieu of the controversial federal Columbus Day holiday many cities and small towns across the nation are opting to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. Indigenous People’s Day aims to honor the history and culture of Native Americans.

On Saturday, Oct. 8 San Miguel County celebrated Indigenous People’s Day in Placerville, Colo. focusing on honoring the Ute people – Colorado’s longest continuous residents.

San Miguel County Commissioner, Art Goodtimes, organized the Indigenous People’s Day in Placerville along with Northern Ute member Roland McCook and Mountain Village Mayor Martin Mckinley.

Goodtimes attended a Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs Meeting last month in Ignacio to invite the Ute tribes to the educational event.

“Educate us, help us understand,” Goodtimes said at the CCIA meeting hosted in September. “Educate our citizens about tribal affairs.”

The cultural event is meant to continue the reconciliation process and serve as a healing and educating experience for everyone involved. San Miguel County formally apologized gov’t-to-gov’t to the Umcompaghre Nuche who were forcibly removed to Utah from their homelands – which includes the lands within San Miguel County.

The daylong event included designation of a plaque, presentations, and dance and drum performances. The plaque dedicated to the Utes (Nuche) at Placerville Park reads:

“To the people who came before us, the Nuche who traversed the San Juans without hindrance and occupied these mountains for as long as stories have been told. They and their families utilized the resources as needed. They did not take for granted the streams, valleys and ridges as they followed the deer, elk and mighty bighorn sheep. The women and girls laughed and giggled, as they gathered berries and prepared food as homemakers. And the men provided protection and food as hunters. Silver and gold were discovered in 1871 in the San Juan region. Thus began the negotiations between the Nuche and the U.S. Government. This resulted in the removal of the Umcompahgre and White River Utes to Utah. We the people of Colorado will always remember the Nuche who lived in harmony in this beautiful environment.”

Chairman Clement J. Frost and Acting Culture Director and Sun Dance Chief Hanley Frost represented the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for the ceremony. And Ute Mountain Ute singers and dancers performed for those in attendance at the day’s events.

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