Southern Ute Indian Tribe swears in new tribal officials

Newly elected tribal leadership were sworn in and recited their Oath of Office on Monday, Dec. 21. Melvin J. Baker was sworn in as the Tribe’s new Chairman. Due to COVID-19 and the tribally issued ‘Stay at Home’ Order, only a limited number of individuals were able to attend the ceremony in Tribal Council Chambers.
Southern Ute Council Member Linda K. Baker signs the oath of office during the Tribal Council Inauguration. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe invited the tribal membership, tribal staff, local community, dignitaries, and officials to attend the virtual Swearing-In Ceremony for the newly elected council members.
Southern Ute Council Member Dr. Stacey Oberly takes the oath of office, Monday, Dec. 21. The first orientation for the elected officials is with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Incident Management Team to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic to gain insight into the Tribe’s response and plans through the end of the pandemic.
Lindsay Box | SU Council Affairs
Lindsay Box | SU Council Affairs
Lindsay Box | SU Council Affairs

Registered Southern Ute tribal voters took to the polls Friday, Dec. 18 in the 2020 Run-Off Election to vote for Chairman and two Council Members. In accordance with the Southern Ute Tribal Election Code, Section 11-10-102 (3) “the candidate for each office in the run-off election who received the highest number of votes shall be deemed elected.”

The Southern Ute Election Board has confirmed the following election results:

Office of Tribal Chairman                                               No. of Votes

Melvin J. Baker                                                                                   214

Lorelei Cloud                                                                                       199

 

Office of Tribal Council                                                   No. of Votes

Lindsay J. Box                                                                                     159

Linda K. Baker                                                                                    205

James M. Olguin                                                                                 165

Stacey Oberly                                                                                       243

 

Chairman Melvin J. Baker has previously served 9 years on Tribal Council, including as Acting Chairman and Vice Chairman. Baker was born and raised on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Throughout his political career, Baker worked on the development and implementation of the new Sky Ute Casino Resort, Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum and served on various tribal and state committees including the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs and Southern Ute Indian Housing Authority.

“First, and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who supported and voted for me in this year’s election run for Chairman. I look forward to working with the current Tribal Council as well as the two newly elected Tribal Council members. I ask that you all do your part in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay safe and wear your mask. Take care of our elders and our children. I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays,” stated Chairman Baker.

Chairman Baker enjoys spending time with his family including his partner, three children and five grandchildren.

The two vacant Tribal Council seats were filled by Linda K. Baker and Stacey Oberly.

Newly Elected Council Member Baker has previously worked for the Southern Ute Museum as the Museum Director and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the Anthropology Department. Baker attended Fort Lewis College and received her BA in History and a secondary teaching certification, as well as attending the University of Colorado at Denver; Western Archives Institute at San Diego State University; and Native American Museum Studies Institute at the University of California at Berkley.

“I would like to thank the membership for the vote of confidence and the dialogue with the other Candidates,” expressed Council Member Baker.

In her spare time, she enjoys beading, functional OCR/HIIT training, and providing educational consultation on Native American and Ute history and culture. She is the daughter of the late Archie Baker and Diana Cambridge-Baker.

Newly Elected Council Member Dr. Oberly has obtained a Ph.D in Linguistics, a Masters in Native American Linguistics and Bilingual Multicultural Education, and a BA in Spanish and Early Elementary Montessori Certificate. Prior to becoming an elected official, Oberly worked as the Coordinator of Ute Language and Culture at the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy and an instructor for the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona.

“I look forward to serving the tribal membership with clear communication, to create unity and transparency, while adhering to our traditional and cultural ethics,”  Her hobbies include making moccasins, ribbon skirts and shirts, singing Sundance and gourd dance songs, and taking her family on adventures.

Dr. Oberly is the daughter of Mary Inez Cloud and Pete Rivera, and the mother of three children.

Chairman Baker has chosen Council Member Bruce Valdez to serve as his Vice Chairman. The Executive Office appointment will be announced in the coming days. Until the announcement is made, Executive Officer Barbara Scott-Rarick will remain in the role through the transition.

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