Fri Sep 24th, 2021
Robert L. Ortiz
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
Dave Brown (David William Brown)
January 5, 1952 – September 11, 2021
Submitted by the family of Dave Brown.
Dave was Editor/Head Writer/Media Manager for The Southern Ute Drum for almost eight years (July 1998 – March 2006). On the occasions we got to see him or chat with him, he always spoke fondly and respectfully of the opportunity the Southern Ute Tribe gave him to be considered part of its family.
He absolutely loved living in Bayfield. Many of the photos he would send us as gifts were ones, he himself had taken of the wildlife and forestry in the area. It was his way of telling his three brothers and sole sister that not only did he love the beauty of southwestern Colorado, but he also felt at home and quite content there.
To the leadership of the Southern Ute Tribe, the staff at The Drum, and all those he was honored to work with, befriend, and celebrate life – we, his siblings, thank you for taking such care of our brother while he was in your midst. He is now in the gentle, loving hands of his Creator who is able to take even better care of him.
About four years ago, Dave relocated from Bayfield to Manhattan, Kan., to be nearer to family as his health was failing. During those four years, he was surrounded by countless family members – two of his four siblings, their spouses, several nieces and nephews, and a sizable collection of grand-nephews and grand-nieces. He passed peacefully on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Dave Brown, former Editor of the Southern Ute Drum
Dave Brown began his career as the Editor of The Southern Ute Drum in July of 1998. As a new employee of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal organization, he wrote a bio, introducing himself to the Southern Ute tribal membership and the many readers of the Drum as the newly hired, Editor and Head Writer.
In his bio, Dave listed his interests as, the acoustic guitar, golf, skiing, crossword puzzles, reading, some horseback riding, camping and fishing. He also introduced his family as well, wife, Kristin and stepdaughter, Briar Suriano of Melbourne, Fla.
As well as being the Editor, Dave was the Head Writer for the Drum. Dave wrote an ongoing editorial column titled “Reflections Along the Journey” giving insight to what Dave experienced while at the Drum.
As he penned his first “Reflections,” which appeared in the July 17, 1998 issue of the Drum. He wrote that he “now had to prove” that he deserved the honor as Editor of the Drum. “I have to prove it every day to members of the newspaper staff and his supervisor, Arnold Santistevan. To you the readers I have to prove it every two weeks when you pick up the newspaper.”
Writing to his twenty-eight years of print and broadcast journalism, “I’m only as good as my last impression I made on someone.” And an impression he made, not only to the staff, and the readers of the Drum, but to the Southern Ute tribal membership and the Ignacio community. As Dave proclaimed, “it’s actually a return to my professional roots, for newspaper is where I began the journey in the year 1970. I’ve come full-circle.”
Dave expressed his main influences in his daily work ethic, his maternal great-grandmother, who was a freelance writer of short stories and poems, who lived to be 96. His maternal grandmother who was a photographer/reporter in the male dominated newspaper business in the 1940’s, and lastly his mother, who had recently passed away prior to his being hired at the Drum. His mother was a teacher of words to young people as they entered their first years of school. Dave wrote, “As those three women of integrity and perseverance. Watch my endeavors from their place with the Creator, I can only work to make them proud.”
Dave was instrumental in the move of the Southern Ute Drum offices in 2001, from the Annex Building – which was once the girl’s dormitory during the BIA Boarding School era – to the newly constructed Leonard C. Burch Building, where the current Drum offices are housed today. The building named after Mr. Burch who, as a Chairman for the Tribe was instrumental in the foresight of where the Tribe is today.
As part of any Drum staff members duties, photography was one of the many contributions Dave made to the Drum. He had an eye for the local wildlife and beautiful scenery of the Southern Ute homelands. As a photographer Dave captured the beauty of the Southern Ute reservation through his lens, be it wildlife or scenery there was always a photo of Dave’s in the Drum throughout his tenure.
Dave wrote articles on a wide range of topics, from the Coal-bed Methane ownership being won by the Tribe in the U.S 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to the Animas-La Plata Project. Dave covered many events on the Southern Ute reservation, from Veterans events and parades, including the annual Memorial Day celebrations and the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial in Aspen, Colo., to the Southern Ute Wildlife’s Fish Surveys, which included a full-page photo essay of the project, as well as the new E-911 System headquartered at the Southern Ute Police Department. Dave also covered the annual Bear Dance and Southern Ute Fair Powwows that were hosted on the Southern Ute reservation, and photographed various dancers, as well as many of the events associated with the Southern Ute Fair and Powwows, respectively.
With an extensive background in journalism Dave made sure his Drum staff was on point when it came to writing articles. Always offering constructive criticism, yet with humor and positivity, letting staff members know, “this is Journalism 101” when a mistake was made.
Dave was always game for anything, from dressing up as the Easter Bunny during the annual Easter egg hunt, to wearing KISS makeup with other Drum staff members for Halloween. Dave’s joy and happiness was infectious throughout the organization. Always smiling, cracking a joke, his laugh was instantly recognizable wherever he was.
As the Drum’s Department Head, Dave worked with a few different Tribal Information Services Directors, Arnold Santistevan, Larry Tucker and Edna Frost. He was the leader of many Drum staff members during his time as Editor (which later changed to Media Manager), Drum staff employees included Robert Ortiz, Mary Monte, Blenda Ortiz, Oolcu Buckskin, Jenny Gummersall, Beth Santistevan, Amy Barry the late Jimmy Newton Jr. Not only was Dave a boss, he was also a friend.
Dave’s last publication as Media Manager, was on March 17, 2006. Ironically, Dave also appeared in a rare photo of himself in the April 14, 2006 issue of the Drum, accepting a Pendelton blanket as a token of appreciation from then Executive Officer, Byron Red and Acting Tribal Information Services Director, Larry Tucker upon his departure from the Drum.
In his final letter to the Southern Ute membership, “A Heartfelt Farewell” published on March 31, 2006, “Today is my last day to work for the Southern Ute Tribal Government and, therefore this is also the last issue of The Southern Ute Drum for which I will serve as Editor for the newspaper.”
Dave went on to express, “For the most part, my nearly eight years of working here has been a pleasurable and educational experience. I want to sincerely thank those of you who shared thoughts, words and prayers with me and taught me things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Closing with, “While I will not be here with you on a daily basis anymore, it is my intent to stay in the area and pursue other opportunities, so it is quite possible that I will continue to run into the many friends I have made while working for the Southern Ute people. I bid you adieu and ask that you be good to each other.” – respectfully Dave Brown (insert birth/death dates)
Dave was truly an asset in the forward progress of The Southern Ute Drum, his contributions while Editor will forever be etched in printed form for many to see. Being a non-Native and in charge of the Tribal newspaper came with challenges, as he said in his first “reflections” he had to prove every day we deserved the honor of being the Editor of the Drum, and he did. He put his heart and soul into everything he did while at the Drum, and he gained the respect of many while sticking to his desire to earn the honor of Editor.
Being somewhat of a local celebrity as a TV broadcaster on a New Mexico NewsChannel, Dave made friends easily and cherished each friendship immensely. He was active in the community and always at various functions, either as a Drum employee or as a community member. Downtown Dave Brown will be truly missed by many.