Southern Ute General Election

Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum


Friday, November 6, 2020, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.



Melvin Baker

Melvin J. Baker

Greetings Tribal Membership!

My name is Melvin Baker, everyone knows me as Mel. I am a Candidate in this year’s Tribal Election. I am running for the Chairman’s Seat for our Tribe. My experience includes a total of nine years as a Tribal Council Member, Acting Chairman and Vice Chairman, I was also the Tribal Housing Director for five years.

Having nine years of experience I feel that I am ready to take on the challenge of running for the Chairman of our Tribe. I believe a lot of changes need to be made, for the betterment of the membership. Sitting on the Tribal Council at times it seemed like the Tribal Council was powerless. It seemed like directors had more power than the Tribal Council. That needs to change, we need to make sure that the Tribal Council as elected officials manage tribal affairs to the best of their ability for the membership. We need to have Executive Officers that work with the Tribal Council and not against them. Together we all can make a difference. Not only should the Executive Office oversee the Permanent Fund Administration, but work for the membership to the best of their ability. Working together as a team is a must for the membership. Not one Tribal Councilman or Chairman can fix everything, we must work together. If elected the first thing I would do is to sit down with current Tribal Council and come up with priorities and goals of what we would like to accomplish in the next three years. I would like to hear what they all would like to address or work on. Put all our thoughts together and prioritize the things that we would like to accomplish. One of my concerns is the need for more housing for our membership. It feels like we are always told we can’t do this or that, but we can. We need to have staff that can assist the Tribal Council with solutions to resolve the many issues that are at hand.

Tribal housing – We need to have staff that can assist and work with Tribal Council to come up with solutions to resolve affordable tribal housing issues. Identify more homesite locations not only subdivisions but also scattered sites. Assuring that the identified sites have adequate infrastructure, water, sewer, electricity etc. We need to depend on our staff to look for Grant Funding opportunities that can help offset cost for future housing.

Indian reservation roads – As some of you may know, some of the roads on the reservation that are utilized for hunting, cutting firewood, post or leisure are not maintained for suitable driving conditions. Why aren’t the roads being maintained like they used to be back in the day. I know with Federal dollars being allocated to the BIA, they are limited on what they can do for the road maintenance. Is it possible to 638 the road maintenance dollars and the Tribe utilize what funding has been allocated by hiring a seasonal road crew to maintain the roads? We must be thinking of other personnel that use those roads, fire suppression, wildlife officers, natural resources, etc. Along some of the same roads you travel you see how bad the fence lines are. I have mentioned this before, still the fences remain the same. To address these issues, wouldn’t it be nice to bring back a tribal reservation crew, create job opportunities for tribal members. Opportunities like this would give some tribal members a chance for employment.

Water – We need to regroup and look at the water situations on the reservation. Animas LaPlata Project for example; The water is there but it seems like the only one currently benefiting is recreation for Durango. I don’t believe either the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe or The Southern Ute Tribe are benefiting from any generated revenue. I could be wrong, but nevertheless these are discussions that need to occur between both tribes. We could incorporate past leaders from both tribes who sat at the table initially when this was all being discussed- utilize their knowledge and come up with ideas that will benefit both tribes. Only through discussion between both tribes can we come up with solutions. Another water concern is why is the Pine River always so dry in the summer months. I know we own a certain amount of acre feet of water in the Vallecito reservoir. I have heard that this is an issue with tribal members who live south of town in the LaBoca area, with no water or dilapidated delivery systems it can be a burden to them. We need to address the pro’s and cons of the Seven Rivers that flow through the reservation. We know there is a drought but what does this say for the water quality of all water that runs through our tribal land. What does that say for the aquatic life of the rivers and streams. It has impacts to the fish, birds, frogs, snakes and all other animals that use and depend on the water like deer, elk, bears, etc. This is an important issue I’d like to discuss with Tribal Council.

Health Care – Are we doing an adequate job for our members with regard to health issues? Do we need to look into building a new health care facility for our members? We need input from our Tribal Members to see if they are fully satisfied with existing services. Staff would need to look into what it would take to build a new health center if one is needed. It takes quite a while to research all that is needed if the tribe decided to build a new facility. How much would it cost? Is grant funding available that we can tap into to offset costs? Where would it be located, would it include any services that relate to diabetes, such as dialysis needs? Health care is very important to all of our members both on and off the reservation, this is just another topic that I would like to discuss with the Tribal Council.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected just about everyone whether it be Federal, State or Tribal governments. What does the future look like for The Southern Ute Tribe? I know we all can’t wait for this to come to an end, when we can freely travel, go shopping, visit family and enjoy recreational activities. But, for us as a Tribe what are the impacts to our Tribal Government, Casino and Growth Fund? I’m sure there has been some losses for all, but where do we go from here? How do we recuperate what has been lost? Perhaps we may never recuperate our losses, just as a lot of businesses have had to close their doors and go out of business. I believe we are okay but we need to be prepared for the future in the event of another pandemic. We need to write policies to protect our Tribal dollars in the event that we have to shut down our tribe again in the future. We need to have a game plan in place that says some employees may not receive a full paycheck. What that language would say would only come from a series of meetings between the Tribal Council and our Finance team. I heard that some tribes were only paying employees 60% of their salaries. Do we need to add this to contract employees as well? Just some thoughts as we move forward in the future.

Tribal Member Veterans – I would like to bring to the table our Tribal Veterans. I don’t feel like our Veterans have been given the recognition they deserve. We need to do a better job of respecting our Veterans who have served our Country for our freedom. It seems like everywhere you go, Veterans are being honored for their services. Again, all I am saying is what can we do to pay respect to those who served in all branches of the armed forces to include those we have lost. I feel we need do a better job of honoring them.

Budgets – The yearly Permanent Fund budget. It’s the approved funding we need each and every year to provide services to the Tribal Membership. I would like to work with the Tribal Council and the Executive Office to really scrutinize each and every department of the tribe. We need to look at what is currently being provided and whether or not we’ve outgrown certain services or if there is a need for other services. We need a checks and balances of each department. Let’s get a true snapshot of each department. Can we reduce the yearly budget? We will only know through meetings between the Tribal Council, Department directors and the Executive Office that over sees all departments. It seems like a lot of work, but it can be done at the direction of the Tribal Council.

Culture and Language – As you know we have lost many of our elders who knew and lived the language and culture of our Tribe. Every year we seem to lose some of that knowledge. As we move forward, we need to use what resources we have left before it is too late. We all need to work together to do what we can to preserve our language and culture. No more fighting and bickering, let’s use our available resources to accomplish this goal.

In closing, there is so much more I could say, but I need to save that for another day. Stay home and do your part to protect your families from this pandemic. I want to thank the entire membership on and off the reservation for stepping up and voting for the candidates of your choice. I would also like to thank each and every candidate for stepping up and putting your name on the ballot for the special election, the Chairman seat, and the two Tribal Council seats that are up this year. This shows that you do care about the future of our Tribe. Good luck to all candidates in this year’s election. God Bless each and every one of you and your families.

Please feel free to give me a call at 970-769-2763 if you have any questions you would like to discuss.

May the Creator watch over you always,

Mel Baker



Lorelei Cloud

Lorelei Cloud


My name is Lorelei Cloud and I am running for Chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

I give thanks to my ancestors and past leaders for their commitments and labors for making it possible for our Southern Ute Tribe to be blessed with success in the modern world. Today all of us to have these riches because of them. As an example, we can see with our own eyes our beautiful building, our athletic and ceremonial parks and the new skate park. There is a place for everyone. Our childern have an amazing array of opportunities to follow their dreams, be it for arts, science, or business. They can go to anywhere in the world to pursue their education. I know no other tribe that offers this gift. I completely support these systems and when they return, they will enrich our lives in a good way. We can add to their character by celebrating our Ute traditions with them.

I must take a moment to thank and honor Leonard C. Burch for his visionary and successful plans for our tribe. His worldly experiences taught him to plan for future generations. He loved us all. We are a model for other tribes seeking to better the lives of their people. My grandmother, Sunshine C. Smith and Leonard C. Burch are my inspiration. They taught me to love our Ute ways as well as my lifelong love for Sundance, Bear Dance, singing our Ute songs as well as teaching my children to keep the Ute ways alive.

I have been on Tribal Council for the past five years and I have observed that we have been operating on a failing system causing disharmony among our people. The Tribal Council is voted in by the Tribal People and I intend to strengthen that power for you. Power is achieved with clear communication. I will have a set schedule of monthly town hall meeting and quarterly meetings for the next three years, as well as mentorships for our members with directors and division heads. Please understand that I will always listen to your concerns.

I am committed, I am dedicated, and I am devoted to make good on my promise to encourage all members to understand and participate in our polices and actions. This beautiful reservation is our only home and I embrace the opportunity to make it a harmonious community. I will leave a legacy with a foundation of truth, innovated solutions and the pride to be a Ute. I promise with my whole being to honor every member and will be a model of care and transparency. I will stand by you and we will walk the great Red Road together with the blessing from our Great Creator.

Lorelei Cloud



No Photo Requested

Renee J. Cloud

Southern Ute Indian Tribe-Membership

Dear Tribal Member,

I am one of several candidates striving for the Tribal Chairman’s position. With on-going tribal issues, I am not silent anymore, as I feel I am a voice for the tribal members who seek help; I agree that we need leadership to assist us- not work against us. I also see that we are so “unrepresented” by the present Tribal Council, because they are elected by their big family and friends. If they get re-elected we will be in the same situation. A classical situation we all are familiar with.

At any rate to introduce myself – I am an individual with knowledge of the Ute History, our reservation; speak and understand the Ute Language. Educated to the highest level; have knowledge of the Southern Ute Tribal Constitution and its contents. I have worked in many tribal departments overtime and understand the Tribal Organization and its operations.

At this time – I believe understanding our Tribal Government operations; communicating with the membership is “essential” in order to survive in this turbulent economy. If I am your choice as the Chairman we can enhance employment issues, create programs that meet our needs; we can overcome many unfair business practices through compliance and accountability; we can enhance housing issues, medical issues, grants calling for head count of tribal members to get funds that never reach or serve us, etc.

Looking back at the past we had a campus plan to expand our government services, now we have a ghost campus. Decision made by Tribal Council was not the best. Peaceful Spirit was shut down without notice; Petition for funding for the tribal members the BP settlement was shot down. Plus they discussed outsourcing prisoners in our tribal jail to La Plata County, and Pagosa Spring and downsized the police force to save money. I don’t call this taking care of Tribal business, our workforce or voting against the membership was a good decision.

Further, our Tribal Government is “shut down” since January, 2020 without warning or notice to the membership or even a general meeting to let us know what their intentions was going to be. When I heard this news I met with them in January encouraged them to notify the membership, but never heard any reply. Now months later I noticed a few employees working up to 10 people at max, while other employees stay at home get paid for doing nothing, including Tribal Council. At present while I understand safety and the controversial news about the virus, I think our office needs to be open with safety measures in order to serve the membership-we are a government operation.

In addition, its Election time November 6th; and there are certain tribal council members seeking reelection violating our Constitution/ election ordinance. Many members spoke to me about this issue and all the other issues – they are concerned – we need to fix this problem. This election is going to be critical elect someone who understands us. I feel I can be this individual – your vote will count.

In closing thank you for your support if you do; and may the Creator Bless and keep us safe. Contact me if you have questions.

Renee J. Cloud,

Tribal Council

Chairman Candidate



Christine Sage

Christine Sage



Southern Ute Indian Tribal members,

I am Christine Sage and I’m running for re-election as Chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. I have so much more work to get completed. I would like your vote on November 6, 2020 to get more work started.

I am a responsible, always willing to learn, honest, lead by example, Ute woman. To be honest and transparent is important here as Chairman. If a tribal member is to ask me what is the Tribe working on, I do and have provided information to this Tribal member, that’s my honesty and transparency. My mother and father, Esther Coyote Baker and Chris A. Baker, Sr. have taught me to have the best intentions to determine how to be honest and have the strength to carry this forward. I have their thoughts and words in my heart every day as I do my job as Chairman to the best of my ability. I am a wife, mother, and Grandmother to my pride and joy. They are the reasons I carry myself proudly and with resilience. I come from a ranching, farming, and political family. Where I grew up in LaBoca I hold that place dear to me.

This COVID-19 virus, pandemic, is a challenging time for our tribe and the world. I am proud to say our membership is following the orders that the Tribal Council has put into place. This started on February 18, 2020 with the formation of the IMT. During these meetings the Council was unanimously in approval with the forming of IMT and the orders that are present today. The virus is making life difficult and we need to keep all Tribal members and staff safe, it’s invisible so we never know where it is going, who’s going to get it, and how long it’s going to last. We get our data to make the determinations for the safety and the health of our Tribal elders, our Tribal children, those at risk who have health issues, our membership as a whole, and the Tribal staff. This year was overtaken by the pandemic, COVID-19. With each other’s support we can get through this together!

The work still needs to happen, as Chairman we keep working for the future of our Tribe which is very important both near and far. I don’t like “Status Quo”, that’s been around here too long and it’s time to improve our Tribe, economically, technologically, with our water, and our lands. There are ways to improve. When this pandemic subsides, the General Meetings and Town Halls will continue.

I ask for your vote as Chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. My job has not been totally accomplished, I have more to get finished: Tribal issues, Governmental issues, County issues, and State issues. With your support and vote, I will step up and make our voices heard for the betterment of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. There is much that I have started and would like for these issues to continue to support the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribal membership.


Thank you very much,

Christine Sage



Linda Baker

Linda K. Baker

Maiku’ Pinunuuchi,

I am the granddaughter of “Casey” Baker and Edna Baker. My father is Archie Baker (Southern Ute) and my mother is Diana Baker (Navajo). My name is Linda K. Baker, and I am a candidate for Tribal Council.

I have Three Platforms with three sub-headings. They are:

Tribal identity (language, culture, enrollment)

Equal opportunity (programs, employment, off-reservation access)

Quality assurance (finance, performance, accountability)

I would like to make it clear – issues important to you need to be included with this small list. One issue from each platform is described below:

Tribal identity: Enrollment. Information about First Descendants needs to be formally gathered to help determine enrollment and impact upon the tribe.

Equal opportunity: Off-reservation access.  This includes representation as well as access to programs provided to tribal members who live within the exterior boundaries of the reservation. Topics include: mental and health care, elder care, health options, home improvement, housing, and emergency assistance.

Quality assurance: Accountability.  Determine efficiency of departmental operations, and apply policies consistently to all employees in regards to performance, budget and employment.

I believe focusing and completing projects with deadlines is important in moving the internal operations of the tribe forward. Examples of my experience with decision-making and deadlines are the Southern Ute Gaming Commission and the Native American Resource Group/Denver Museum of Nature and Science (grants, exhibit deadlines, presentations).

I am team oriented, as evident by the successful and timely completion of projects developed with staff and members of different organizations, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (NAGPRA/Special Projects), Fort Lewis College (Native American Center Academic Advisor, Center of Southwest Studies Assistant Curator), Colorado Indian Education Committee, and KSUT board of Directors.

My formal education includes graduating from Fort Lewis College with a degree in History and a Secondary Teaching Certification, and Master of Public Administration coursework at the University of Colorado-Denver, Non-Profit concentration.

I look for solutions and decisions in a timely manner.

I am not afraid to ask questions.

I am detailed oriented and persistent.

I am approachable and open to communication.

I read and research information.

I am a team player willing to make a commitment toward the overall well-being of our tribal members. Thank you for taking the time to read my submission. I would appreciate your vote on Friday, November 6, 2020.


Linda Baker



Lindsay Box

Lindsay J. Box

I have to apologize to my Elders for speaking before them. My name is Lindsay J. Box.  I am the daughter of Jann Smith and the late Orian Box, egap’. My paternal grandparents are Fritz and Pearl Posey-Box, egap’. My maternal grandparents are Howard and Joan Sacket, egap’.

I care for my people. I care for the tribal members who have passed, those who are here today, and those yet to come. I am thankful for our ancestors and the Tribal Elders who fought for us, so we can be here and those who have sacrificed, so we can enjoy the lifestyles we have today.

I was born in Durango and raised on the Reservation. I graduated from Ignacio High School.  I received two bachelor’s degrees (American Indian Studies and Sociology) from Fort Lewis College.  I also attended New Mexico State University working on a master’s degree but did not complete that degree program. 

 I have held positions with the Tribe in the Cultural Preservation Department, Southern Ute Museum, Boys & Girls Club of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and currently in Tribal Council Affairs. This experience has given me the opportunity to learn the importance of our traditions and culture. It has also enabled me to emphasize my devotion to helping develop our youth into the next generation of tribal staff and leaders. These experiences have helped me develop into a balanced woman with a breadth of experience. These positions each has challenged me in many ways and transformed me into a leader.

My upbringing, education, experiences, and compassion for our people have made me a youthful leader. I know that I have what it takes to be an influential and reasoned member of Tribal Council. I believe a leader puts her people first. Most importantly a leader should have a strong cultural foundation. A leader should be educated but also capable of thinking independently and critically. She also stays committed to learning and growing her knowledge to make the most informed decisions. A leader should also have a fierce work ethic. A leader should demonstrate consistency. A leader should put her people first. A leader does not accept “no” as an answer without exhausting every option, utilizing vital problem-solving skills. I am committed to demonstrating these essential attributes.

At this juncture, it is more important than ever that we elect serious leaders who are capable of handling serious problems. We have seen what happens when there is a lack of leadership, decision-making, and planning,  We need to elect leaders who want to serve their people, who want to make the most informed decisions in the best interests of the Tribe as a whole. We need leaders who are humble and gracious, while exercising authority in the best interests of our people in the most respectful way.

I am asking for your trust, because I understand the role and responsibilities of this office. I know these seats should always prioritize the tribal membership. I will place the membership first. Without the tribal membership, we are nothing. Without leadership to represent the people, the Tribe will continue our status quo or worse, regress. I know the work required to get back on track and to start moving forward.  I am committed to listening to our people, to follow-up on concerns raised AND to return what I have discovered. Questions and concerns should never be left unheard and without resolution. I am committed to using my conflict resolution skills to unify leadership, our government, and most importantly our people.

Today’s world demands strong, humble, grounded, honest, knowledgeable leadership. The pandemic has shown us the necessity of proper planning. It has shown us why we must reduce the tribal budget. Why underperforming investments and departments must be held accountable. Tribal Council has the authority to demand better plans and smarter investments. I am committed to asking the tough questions, pushing back on the spending, plans, and understanding the cost/benefit to the tribal members. Consolidation of services and elimination of redundant efforts will greatly improve the effectiveness of the Tribe and reduce tribal budgets. Additionally, flattening the organizational structure – making the hierarchy less “top heavy” among all tribal entities would greatly improve efficiency.  There is no need for so many managers, presidents, vice-presidents, and directors. The decline in the oil and gas industry only solidified the need to diversify our portfolio and ensure the other components of our portfolio are performing well. For numerous years, our investments have performed exceptionally well in the bull market. The positive returns of the bull market cannot be sustained forever and we must be prepared for a bear market. Volatility also comes from national and world events including the current pandemic. Now, more than ever, we must be smart with our tribal endowment to plan for our future. It is vital that we have informed leadership who have the skills to think critically and who have the analytical abilities the Tribe deserves. When leadership is being asked to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, we must do so from an informed position. As the Tribe continues to progress, our leaders must be able to think of new opportunities and not be afraid to ask questions about commercial ventures or investments. I promise to always ask hard questions, think critically, and stand up for what I believe is in the best interests of the tribal membership. Our leadership MUST know how the Tribe makes money and what the risks are to remain commercially and operationally viable. As we read reports provided by the Growth Fund, we see a decline in revenue while costs to operate the business continue, it is important that we look at the Financial Plan, and revise it to meet the Tribe’s needs today and for years to come. The tribal membership should be a part of this process.

We also need leadership who do not depend on others to do the heavy lifting. Recommendations from staff and the legal team are appreciated, but it is not the only solution. While being in my position I have continued to learn and expand my knowledge on all aspects of the tribal organization, and I guarantee this will not stop. I will continue to master the tribal business, while educating myself on as much as I can to create new opportunities, clearly communicating my vision, and making informed decisions. I will also be committed to continuously improving my understanding of policies – then doing the work to revise our archaic codes and tribal constitution. I will continue to make it a point to ask questions, seek understanding, admit vulnerability and learn as much as possible. Our leaders should challenge themselves to learn more about the Tribe every day. Our leadership should have the capability and confidence to answer questions from the tribal membership. I believe that if the membership entrusts me, I will not skip a beat. I will not require the learning curve many of our elected officials have when they are first elected to office.

If I am elected, I will exhibit the work ethic required to increase the momentum and progressive pace of our Tribe, while demonstrating TRUE transparency. I heard once that the ability to influence people keeps you in the room while the art of influential diplomacy gets you respect. I plan to use these methods to keep the Southern Ute Indian Tribe at the table to advocate for improved benefits to the tribal membership and increased self-determination. I think an effective leader understands tribal, local, state, national events and advocates for our people, protecting tribal sovereignty and self-determination while keeping in mind the trust responsibilities, compacts, MOU/MOA in many of the government-to-government relationships. This requires leadership to know the tribal priorities and recognize the high value placed on the work they are doing.

I view the tribal organization as a family business. However, it’s currently a family business that has been mismanaged and lost sight of its priorities. If I were elected, I would advocate for a succession plan within the entire organization with the goal of increasing tribal member employment. This succession plan would hand the business back to the tribal membership. New and vacant positions soon to be posted should first consider how a tribal member can be hired or trained for the role. I would advocate for more trainee or Apprentice positions, installing a career ladder model to get tribal members in supervisor positions. The recently revised TERO Code does not go far enough and should again be revised to prioritize tribal member employment. I would also like to get to work on a Workforce Development program and believe that with involvement from the membership, we could build a program that suits the needs of our membership. I also believe we should create opportunities for tribal members in the various trades. Not every tribal member is interested in obtaining a degree, and while the Education Department does support students who choose to attend a non-profit institution, I believe our membership, tribal families, and the organization would benefit from developing tracts for individuals interested in a trade. I also believe we should research how to bring programs to our tribal members through partnerships with other Tribes, educational institutions, and business. It is crucial we develop programs now but maintain vision for our future. In the years to come, the Tribe will need essential STEM positions and my plan would include advocating for incentives for positions such as engineers, healthcare, and technology.

Tribal Members who reside off-reservation need an advocate on Council, and I am committed to learning what challenges you face and how the organization can improve at creating equity no matter where a tribal member resides. While the programs and services that come from the Permanent Fund fall under the direction of the Chairman and the administration, as a Council Member at budget time, I would ask how departments can adapt their program and service to increase their reach to off-reservation.

Another potential issue and project I would devote my time in office towards is addressing tribal distributions. For a number of years tribal distributions have been supplemented by the endowment. This is similar to drawing from our savings to pay our bills, we cannot continue the pattern of dipping into our savings to fulfill our commitments to the membership. In the next 10 years, the number of tribal members who will transition from the tribal distribution age group to the Elders retirement age will increase and only exacerbate the demand for positive revenue. We must analyze the costs to return positive cash flow. 

When I was growing up, my father always told me, “Remember where you come from and never forget who you are.” I have taken that to heart, and I live my life with this sentiment guiding my decisions. Our Ute traditions and values, even our simplest daily practices, are slowly being or already have been forgotten. This breaks my heart. Our Ute traditions and values are truly my foundation, the roots of my stability. Our leaders should know and practice our traditions and utilize them when making decisions. I currently live my life believing my traditional values and Ute culture is the foundation of my identity, what I return to during life’s difficulties, how I show humility and why I remain humble for the things I have and my source of strength. I will continue to live my life in this manner.

I hope that some of what I’ve said here has resonated with you and will help you make an informed decision on November 6, 2020.

Lindsay Box



Cedric Chavez

Cedric J. Chavez

Greetings Southern Ute Indian Tribal Membership,

My name is Cedric J. Chavez, and I would like to Thank You! Thank you for allowing me to represent you as a member of your Tribal Council, it has truly been an honor.

Three years ago I put my wrench down and put my name in the hat with no knowledge of the outcome or how my candidacy would be taken but there was definitely something calling me to stand up and make a difference, stand up and do what is right for the tribe and the membership, no matter how difficult the path may be.

With a large amount of support from the People and the belief that change can be accomplished through faith and hard work I have nearly completed my first term of service to the Tribe and the Membership, although it has not been an easy task, it has truly been one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever been allowed to be a part of and I am very grateful for the opportunity you have given me to be of service to you.

As my term comes to an end, I have made the decision to put my name in the hat again because there is still work that needs to be taken care of.

My initial run for office focused on the fact that Tribal Members are feeling left out of their own Tribe and that the decision making processes are questionable especially when it came to the oversight of the Tribe and the overall accountability it has to its Membership. At the end of the day that is all anyone was really asking for, but accountability is tough to measure across the board. Any decision made leaves room for measured accountability to go right out the window because one decision can lead to an underservice to the organization or those it serves and that is where we must look to bridge those divides.

By no means is the organization perfect but it has many great qualities that have been organized and brought forth by the Leadership of the past to benefit the Membership that we have today and I believe that while we are not there yet we can accomplish so much more especially as individuals. Our Tribe has fought long and hard in the name of self determination and utilizing the resources made available to us as people we can have our own piece of that determination if we seize those opportunities and run with them.

In my time on the Tribal Council I have worked to ensure there is equality when it comes to the decision making process and I look forward to continuing that work for you especially when it comes to the accountability the Tribe has to its People.

I respectfully ask for your support and I encourage you to exercise your right to vote in our elections and to be a part of the government that serves you. Together we can keep change alive and well for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Honoring those who have brought us to where we are, as we look to a better future for the Tribe and the People it serves.

I thank you all for your time and support, it is greatly appreciated!


Cedric J.Chavez



Cheryl Frost

Cheryl A. Frost

Mique Peuhown. Hello everyone. My name is Cheryl Ardena Frost. My parents are Shirley Ardena Red Frost and Stanley Reed Frost ahgahp. My paternal grandparents are Andrew Frost ahgahp and Bertha Norris Frost ahgahp. My maternal grandparents are Bird Colorow Red ahgahp and Nana Eaton Red ahgahp.

I am coming to the end of my first three-year term on the Tribal Council and I am seeking re-election.

The last three years have been challenging. Challenging for many reasons but mostly due to my opinions, thoughts, ideas, words, viewpoints, world view, and who I am as a person, were put on the spot and highlighted. The past three years were also challenging since I had to decide whether I was going to be right or wrong in tribal council work sessions and meetings. Lastly, I was challenged to determine if I was going to be consistent w/ my values and decision-making process. I decided I wanted to be consistent and true to who I am as a person and to honor all those ancestors who fought for the Southern Ute people’s continued existence and to honor those people who raised me.

I knew I had to keep showing up each day to fight the good fight for us all regardless of all other issues in my personal life. I continue to show up for meetings, work sessions, events, board meetings, and other tribal and non-tribal activities. The Chairman and the tribal Administration, of which I am a part, took the hits. We took the non-scandals that were manipulated into the hopes that the tribe would view them as scandalous. We took the punches as often-times the Chairman and Administration were denied the opportunity to exercise, to the fullest extent, those decision-making processes that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Tribal Constitution. We listened to the words during meetings but not quite being able to participate in what was stated privately but we kept ourselves moving forward. We kept the tribal government moving in a forward direction. With all the changes the tribe undertook, I believe wholeheartedly these will have a positive effect on the tribe.

Most recently the issue that has been most time-consuming is the tribe’s response to the Covid-19, also known as, the Coronavirus. This has been particularly hard on everybody. Perhaps, not so much to those who are used to being homebound, although, they hear from others what is going on in the world and they cannot help but feel anxious and worried for the people, too. While our tribe did not ever shut down, some parts of our businesses, including the permanent fund, were closed to the tribal members and public and employees placed on either essential or non-essential employment status.

The tribe did receive assistance from the U.S. Treasury. Funding from the CARES Act has helped somewhat to take the financial burden from the tribe, including, loans to tribal members who are experiencing financial hardship due to the Covid-19. While the Tribe has been fiscally conservative, we must continue to do so in order to be here in perpetuity. We owe this to our ancestors who fought for us and who made decisions for us so we could be here today, tomorrow, and like those who have gone on before us have always stated, into perpetuity since we have always been here, in time immemorial.

In closing, I want to state that the last three years have been life changing. Yes, I have made mistakes with my words and to those who I have offended, particularly the young ones, my apologies. I am also changed in how I view the world with greater appreciation for the times I was able to travel the USA and overseas. I view the tribe, with a much greater appreciation, and for really, all of us who can say we are Southern Ute, both enrollees and descendants. Foremost, my life has changed in a very personal manner.

My father has passed on and now I must learn to move forward without him. I must figure out how to use the knowledge he shared with me, without him. I need to figure out how I am to say goodbye to the person who gave me my voice; literally, he gave me my voice. What I mean is as a baby, I was mute. I did not make the normal baby sounds. My dad worked with me to make me cry, to make baby sounds, and then helped me learn to speak. He gave me my love of reading. He gave me love of words and my immense enjoyment of the English language. I must now continue to move forward, without him.

This is my only opportunity to make my case for re-election. As you all know by now, there will be no Meet the Candidates Night. The circumstances in the world and in our local area does not make this feasible. It is also prudent of the Chairman, who I support, to not have a MTCN for the Chairman has the responsibility of this event. It was not an easy decision. It may even be controversial but considering how unusual the year 2020 has been and with this pandemic having spread worldwide, it is better to be cautious. It is prudent to say no MTCN than to open the doors to possibly invite the Covid-19 in and take up residence on our reservation.

Thank you all for reading.

Mikanus. Tahvuch togwayak.

Cheryl A. Frost



Conrad Thompson

Conrad Thompson

Hello, my name is Conrad Thompson

I grew up on the Southern Ute Reservation in a different time. From around the age of 8, I was introduced to our culture. I learned patients, determination, and strength participating in the different ceremonies. I was taught the songs of our Ute Tribe as well as participating in the various Ceremonies and Dances.

Each year I sing and dance at our annual Bear dance. I sing at our Sundance, I sing at our sweats and I sing at the Seasonal blessings. I sing at powwows, and I sing for our passing tribal members. I have done the same thing over the years at Ute mountain and up at Northern Ute ceremonies.

Culture and tradition are more than just a hobby or political statement.

The idea of Culture, as well as being Traditional used to mean something. I was told stories about some of our past Chiefs and what it meant to be honorable, I was told, you were able to shake them Elders hand and trust their word was as good as any contract.

I am not here to tell you I have all the answers. When I see our situation, I understand our Leaders need to start listening and asking what the Membership is in need of. The Membership does not need our Leaders telling Us what is best for Us.

In 2006, I started working with the MIS department where I worked with a team of people who had specific tasks to complete. My main job was to ensure that the 9 plus websites I was in charge of, was producing new content on a regular basis. I was also in charge of the network environment of the tribe’s numerous websites as well as some of the security systems.

Working in that department taught me that as a team member you were responsible for how everybody in that environment was viewed, you had to be on point everyday and make sure your job was done because the team was depending on you. If you looked bad, the whole team looked bad.

We are not always given the best opportunities or even get to choose from the best or qualified team members, but as a leader and a member of a team, it is the team as a whole who should take responsibilities for losses as well as wins.

Moving forward into this new world of business we need to embrace technology, while remembering where we came from. Use our resources to save Ute Culture by giving the people a platform to voice their concerns, share stories, music, and Art. Start an e-commerce community, share recipes, dress making, drum making, read poetry. Teach Audio and Video editing or any other classes, if we wanted.

I am not a politician, and I am not popular. When I put the drinking aside, I lost a lot of people I thought were my friends. I am not conceded nor am I better than anyone else. I know what it’s like to stand alone. So, I know how a lot of you feel.

Change is never easy, but now, it is more important than ever that we all change for the better … PLEASE get out and VOTE. Do not be fooled by personal politics!

Remember to check on your family and friends in this pandemic.

Prayers to you and yours, I’m for the membership and I stand by the membership.

Conrad Thompson

For Tribal Council



John Washington

John J. Washington

Hello my tribal fellowship,

My name is John Washington, most of you know me as Jim. I am one of the several candidate’s running for a tribal council seat for the 2020 Southern Ute tribal election on Nov. 6, 2020.

My main belief is tribal membership deserves quality services and opportunities when it comes to education, health, and lifestyle. The results of these services to tribal members reflect the focus and attention to whether our policies are working positively or negatively towards the membership.

During this time the pandemic is affecting membership’s hope and confidence in our tribe that our leadership has and shows courage. The world is changing – and what do the people want or need, also start looking into what can we do to help the people feel supported, and if not now, when?

As your elected tribal council member representing the membership, I will focus on working together on council to create such opportunities for membership.

My asset is COMMUNICATION. I have spoken to many tribal members not only in private as a friend but also during working hours as an employee. I have worked for the Permanent Fund and have had tribal members communicate their trust, ideas, viewpoints, and concerns, to me and asking for my thoughts and advice in return. I am always being asked what’s going on with the tribe and where is the tribal leadership.

I believe that tribal council members need to continue working as a team – for the people and communicating our direction to the tribal membership during this worldwide pandemic. I VOTED FOR THEM BECAUSE I WAS SURE  TO SEE THEM EXERCISE THEIR LEADERSHIP ESPECIALLY DURING THIS TIME.

Our homes are sacred to us all, especially since we are spending the majority of our time (tele)working, caring for grandchildren, our children homeschooling, and spending family time together. These are our precious moments for now and in time home repairs will become a problem for some. We need to make sure our homes are functioning, safe, and warm for the coming winter.

John Washington

The following candidates running for Tribal Council did not submit a Candidate’s Statement to The Southern Ute Drum:

  • Edward Box III
  • Alex Cloud
  • Stacey Oberly
  • James Olguin
  • Adam Red
  • Elise Redd

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