Fri Dec 4th, 2020
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
Leonard C. Burch Day — this day of recognition was first established on Dec. 10, 1996 by the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council and is celebrated as a tribal holiday — every December.
Burch was known for his strong cultural ties to his Ute traditions, his visionary leadership in his role as the Tribe’s longtime chairman and unparalleled dedication to family, community and the many friendships he cultivated along the way.
The Burch family introduced the annual Leonard C. Burch Walk/Run in 2011 in an effort to bring the community together, educate and recognize the accomplishments of the late Chairman Burch. He is survived by his wife Irene Burch and seven daughters, who come together each year as a family to organize the walk in honor of their father.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Tribe’s Stay at Home order, it was deemed necessary to cancel this year’s event, which was set to take place over the Leonard C. Burch holiday weekend.
“We are on a Stay at Home order put in place by the Southern Ute Tribe and we need to keep everyone safe at this moment in time,” Leonora Burch explained. “Hopefully next year will be a bigger and better year!”
According to a statement published by the Burch family, “Mr. Leonard C. Burch served was elected to the Southern Ute Tribal Council at the young age of 32 in 1966 and served for Chairman for 28 years. Under his leadership, the Southern Ute Tribe emerged from relative poverty to become a major economic force in the Four Corners region and the largest employer in LaPlata County. Fueled principally by successful development of the Tribe’s natural gas resources, the Burch era saw countless examples of community development and improvements in education and health and social programs available to tribal members.”
These are just a few of Mr. Burch’s outstanding achievements:
“Throughout his life, Mr. Burch remained respectful of the culture and traditional ways of the Ute people,” his family stated. “He participated continuously in the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Sundance as both a dancer and Sundance Chief and he supported programs to preserve the Ute language and the Tribe’s museum.”
Leonard C. Burch retired from his remarkable political career at the end of 2002; he passed on in August the following year. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe dedicated the newly built Tribal Administration Building in his name soon after. Inscribing a set of bronze plaques with the inscription, “In memory of Leonard C. Burch, 1933-2003, Former Chairman, Council Member, Sun Dance Chief and Great Visionary — Thank you for your leadership, dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of your people.”