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Briggs completes apprenticeship program for NAGPRA position

NAGPRA Coordinator Apprentice, Garrett Briggs, after finishing his two-year training program under Cultural Preservation.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

Southern Ute tribal member Garrett W. Briggs stepped into the position of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Apprentice for the Southern Ute Cultural Department in May of 2017.

Briggs has now successfully completed the term of the apprenticeship program, working under the supervision of former Cultural Dept. Director, Edward Box III and current acting Cultural Dept. Director Corliss Taylor, having been mentored by Alden Naranjo Jr. and daughter, Cassandra Atencio through the Tribe’s apprentice program. Key projects that Briggs spearheaded include: Leading the collaborative development of the current digital and physical database for the NAGPRA office, City of Boulder MOU Open Space and Mountain Parks committee by appointment of Vice Chairman Frost, in addition to working closely with Naranjo and Atencio on cases under NAGPRA, the state process, and the National Historic Preservation Act to protect Ute ancestors and ancestral sites.

“The Southern Ute apprenticeship program provided me with an opportunity to achieve a personal and professional goal— to use my education obtained through the tribal scholarship program and serve our community.  While gaining practical professional experience, I was also able to learn about our culture, community, history, and language, for which I am eternally grateful. I will always cherish those moments and memories,” expressed Briggs.

The next step for the Cultural Preservation Dept. and the NAGPRA office is to have the INA reviewed for the NAGPRA male counterpart position — opposite of Atencio. The INA refers to an Internal Needs Assessment.

“My hope is that the establishment of the NAGPRA Coordinator Male-counterpart position will further our communities’ voice when it comes to protecting, preserving and perpetuating our cultural heritage for future generations,” he said.

The establishment of the NAGPRA Coordinator Male-counterpart supports Tribal Council’s Mission to establish a Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), which was first verbally discussed among Tribal Council in 1993, Briggs explained. The first printed mention of establishing a THPO is stated in a letter regarding SUIT Resolution 00-221, between Alden Naranjo and Clement J. Frost, dated August 8, 1998. Resolution 00-221 was later referred to as the Tribal Policy for the Protection of Burial Sites, Human Remains, and Funerary Objects.

The Culture Preservation Department’s mission is to revitalize, promote, sustain, and document the culture, language, and history of the Tribe. The NAGPRA office’s responsibilities involve combining these critical elements of Southern Ute heritage to protect, preserve, document, and educate the tribal membership and the general public, guided by tribal interests. Briggs further explained that, “the protection of archaeological sites and our ancestors is how we honor the past and preserve our way of life for the future, while our language ties us to the land and allows us to communicate our worldview and perpetuate our heritage. The establishment of a THPO allows us to further our efforts of being stewards of our heritage, while enabling us to respectfully represent our tribal interests and advocate for our peoples history through self-determination and sovereignty.”

“I hope to utilize the knowledge gained through my apprenticeship to represent and or support our tribal nation going forward. I encourage and all tribal members and first generation descendants to become active in our community—be resilient in your efforts and assist in a capacity you are passionate about,” Briggs emphasized. “Our future as a nation depends upon our collective efforts to further what our ancestors fought for and developed as a sovereign nation. Remember, we will be here when forever comes. And, for that, we need to be prepared as Nuchu.”

“I want to thank my family for supporting me and all of my mentors and colleagues. Without you, none of this would be possible — Tuvuchi Togho’aqh.”

Garrett Briggs is the grandson of Anthony Cloud Burch and Ida Grant, and the son of Edgar Wayne Briggs and Revae Burch Briggs.





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