Tribal and State leaders conduct quarterly CCIA meeting, virtually

Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

On Friday, September 25, the Southern Ute Tribal Council participated in the virtual Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) Quarterly Meeting, along with Ute Mountain Ute and State leadership. The meeting began with a reintroduction of the new CCIA Executive Director, Kathryn Redhorse.

Redhorse provided a brief summary of her background and positions held prior to taking the helm at CCIA. She has hit the ground running and has already attended a multitude of meetings at the state, local, and community level, gathering information, building important relationships and bridges to effectively work on behalf of Colorado’s two resident tribes and the Native American population throughout the state.

Next, Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera updated the virtual attendees on the cascading effects of the COVID-19 pandemic within the State. The State officials and tribal leaders maintained a reoccurring meeting varying from weekly to bi-weekly to update on the pandemic, while also requesting assistance and coordinating deliveries of vital supplies.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe presented various topics including a COVID-19 update and the Tribes “Safer at Home” color coding system. Concerns included request for assistance with the feral horses on the reservation, the current drought impacts to tribal lands, “pot hunters” who are looting sites that have become exposed, and education. “I would like to know how the State can help our tribal students at this time. We want to be sure we are meeting the needs of students to prepare them for the needs of the workforce,” UMU Chairman Manual Heart said. The Ute Mountain Ute tribal community is receiving academic support from the Montezuma-Cortez school district and Fort Lewis College through the partnership with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) helping with tutoring services, access to Chromebooks and hotspots. Heart also shared the Tribe is applying for grant funding to increase broadband internet access and are now in the request for proposal (RFP) stage to build fiber optic in the community.

Southern Ute Chairman Christine Sage and members of Tribal Council also began with updates on the pandemic and the Tribe’s ‘Stay at Home’ Order which remains in effect. Tribal leadership also shared the upcoming health events organized by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Incident Management Team which include the Tribal Member Flu Vaccine Clinic and the October Voluntary Drive-thru Viral Testing Event in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Other tribal announcements include the upcoming tribal elections, possible changes for representation for CCIA, and a brief recap of the meeting held with the Secretary of State and the possibility of a tribal liaison for the upcoming local, state, and national elections. “We are looking forward to this collaboration with the Secretary of State because voting is important,” shared Chairman Christine Sage.

The remainder of the meeting included updates from the numerous State of Colorado offices to include: Department of Natural Resources, History Colorado, Attorney General, CDE, CDPHE, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado Department of Human Services, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Staff from the Department of Natural Resources shared the impacts of the recent and current state fires that are impacting water quality and quantity; History Colorado is continuing to work on various reburials that have had to be postponed due to COVID-19. CDE announced funding would be made available to both Tribes for education support for tribal students, working on academic achievement and providing support for families.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife spent the remainder of the meeting presenting the new State park, Fishers Peak, located near Trinidad Colorado in Las Animas County. The new park will protect rare and threatened species, and a newly discovered type of moss. The land was purchased by multiple entities from a private seller.

The next meeting will be held in December of 2020.

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