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Tribes, State meet in Denver

Photo Credit: Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum

Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Tribal Councilmembers met with state representatives in Denver, Colo. on Friday, Dec. 2 for the last Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs meeting of the year.

For Ute Mountain, newly elected Council members, Chairman Harold Cuthair and Treasurer, Colleen Cuthair-Root joined fellow Ute Mountain Council members Juanita Plentyholes and Marissa Box to update the state officials.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be here … we want to continue the communication with the state of Colorado,” Cuthair said.

Plentyholes provided the update for Ute Mountain. Along with transitioning the four new council members, Ute Mountain Bureau of Indian Affairs Agency has hired a new superintendent, she said.

She also focused much of her update on housing. Ute Mountain will be adding 10 single unit modular homes to the reservation that are targeted for single people, couples, or parent and child homes Plentyholes said.

The homes will help the housing problem, but she hopes in the future to see more permanent homes on the reservation.

“We want to build more housing. I think that would really help our people,” she said. “We applied for a grant for trailers, but I would like to see stick built homes.”

On the Southern Ute side, Council lady Amy J. Barry updated the commission on Southern Ute’s housing expansion including apartments and stick built homes.

Barry also updated the commission on the Youth Council and their work on getting a skate park built on the reservation. The Youth Council has been working with Walt Pourier an artist and executive director of Stronghold Society – a nonprofit that works Native communities and non-Native communities through empowerment, arts programs, skateboarding and athletic activities encouraging youth to take action to live a healthy life in mind, body, and spirit.

Barry said the youth are at the point of land dedication and are looking forward to breaking ground in the spring.

At large member, Lucille Echohawk also talked about an upcoming opportunity for Colorado Native youth. Echohawk said the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) Conference will be held in Denver in July 2017. She hopes to see Native youth of Colorado have a role in the Denver Convention.

Southern Ute tribal member and Navy veteran, Raymond Baker made a presentation during the Southern Ute update. Baker who retired from the Navy last year, was asking for the support of the commission to have a naval ship be named “The Ute.” It will be the second class of ship in naval history to been named “The Ute”, Baker said. The first, the USS Ute, was commissioned in 1940 and decommissioned in 1980.

“It’s very rare to represent everybody, not just the tribes, but Colorado as a whole,” Baker said.

Ernest House Jr. Executive Director of CCIA said that the governor and lieutenant governor are very supportive of the idea and will provide any support to help see this through.

House gave an update on the mascot commission formed from CCIA that has gained national attention.

West Middle School in Colorado Springs wants to meet with the Ute tribes. House said he has been in touch with Austin Box, Southern Ute tribal elder who lives in the area and is working on arranging for Box to meet with the students. He also stated that Shining Mountain High School was the first high school in Colorado to come up with behavior guidelines for sporting events.

The National School Boards Association has also asked that the mascot commission to do a presentation at their annual conference in March 2017.

The next CCIA meeting is scheduled to take place during the same time as Denver March Powwow in 2017.

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