Ken Charles of the Colorado Dept. Of Local Affairs was honored for his 22 years of service to the Commission, standing alongside CCIA Executive Director Ernest House, Jr. and Colorado Lt. Governor Donna Lynne.
Ute Mountain Ute Royalty represents at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs meeting on Friday, June 2.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
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Commission convenes at Bear Dance

The Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) converged in Towaoc, Colo. for their annual spring meeting on Friday, June 2. “On behalf of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, we welcome you,” UMU Chairman Harold Cuthair said in his opening remarks. The meeting was hosted at the Ute Mountain Ute Casino.

“I have been travelling around Utah on behalf of Bears Ears,” Cuthair said, citing a four-hour session with representatives from State and Federal agencies on the topic of the current Administrations possible repeal of the National Monument, first designated by former President Barack Obama in 2016. The land surrounding the Bear Ears is considered sacred to the Utes and other Native American tribes.

“They are going to have an event at Bears Ears, Tribal leaders, and the Bears Ears Coalition,” Cuthair said. “Honoring tribes, honoring Bears Ears.”

The event is scheduled to take place Thurs. June 8 –Sun. June 11 at the intersection of Comb Wash Rd. and HWY 95, near Blanding, Utah.

Education was a topic of much interest to the tribes and representatives attending Friday’s CCIA meeting.

“We are continuing our good relationship with Southern Ute Tribal council and the Southern Ute Education Department.” Ignacio Superintendent, Dr. Rocco Fuschetto said.

“Our concern is with higher education,” Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Juanita Plentyholes said. “How do we work with students and the school district? How can they better prepare our students for higher education?”

The good news is according to the American Indian Measurable Success (AIMS) Program, presented by Mary Rubadeau, of the Colorado Education initiative; there is a steady increase in tribal students going on to secondary education, and an increase in those who are actively taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses at the high school level.

“It has changed the whole culture of Ignacio,” Fuschetto said in regards to the AP courses. There is a clear interest in academics, which goes all the way down to the middle school and elementary levels. This reflects the more rigorous programs, which have been introduced over the past 2-3 years.

There is still a concern from many as to how these entities will work together to support and guide those students forward once they are accepted to college, or any other form of secondary education — to help insure long term completion and individual student success. “Have you thought about how to support those students in college — to keep them in?” Colorado Lt. Governor Donna Lynne asked.

“Strong tribal partnerships,” Rubadeau said — attributing to the recent and ongoing success in academics for tribal students. “When those students connect with each other, or a teacher — they stick around,” she said.

“As leaders, it is our job to set policies, our youth are looking up to us,” UMU Councilwoman DeAnne House said.

Emphasis on education will continue for tribal students next week, with the Tri-Ute Leadership Conference to be held at Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo. from Mon. June 5 – Weds. June 7.

Members of the Colorado Ute tribes, along with members of the Commission travelled to the Ute Mountain Ute Bear Dance grounds in Towaoc, Colo. to help bring in the first day of dancing. The spring celebration was held from Fri. June 2 — Mon. June 5.

Ken Charles of the Colorado Dept. Of Local Affairs was honored for his 22 years of service to the Commission. Charles served as the regional manager for the Southwest office.

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