Vida B. Peabody: Eldest living Southern Ute recognized

Southern Ute Council Member, Vanessa Torres and Vice-Chairman, Lorelei Cloud wrap tribal elder Vida B. Peabody in a Pendleton blanket given as a gift for her 93rd birthday. Peabody is currently the eldest tribal member in the Southern Ute Tribe.
Fabian Martinez | SU Drum

Southern Ute tribal elder, Vida B. Peabody was recently honored and recognized as the eldest living tribal member. The celebration took place at the Multi-Purpose Facility’s Sip, Chat, and Chew event on Friday, Feb. 17. Throughout the recognition — friends, family, and tribal employees took time to thank Peabody for her years of service to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, its membership, and the surrounding communities.  

The community celebrated Peabody’s 93rd birthday by sharing stories and cake, alongside Peabody and her family. Beginning with an invocation from Southern Ute Chairman, Melvin J. Baker, the celebration opened with a meal provided by the staff members of the Multi-Purpose Facility. Attendees were given time with one another and the honored guest. Following the meal, a small greeting was read at the program by Peabody’s granddaughter, Randi Rock. 

“As a mother she has always been there for her children, she has the best advice in the world, she says, ‘been there, done that,’” Rock shared. “She has encouraged all her family to make the best choices –her advice is excellent, and she knows everybody in the Ute community and how we are all related.” Following the reading by Rock, the mic was then opened up to anyone who wanted to give their regards to Peabody. 

Eldest Southern Ute tribal member, Vida Peabody, age 93, sits with Jean M. Taylor, age 94, who is the eldest Ute Mountain Ute tribal member during the birthday recognition for Ms. Peabody at the Southern Ute Multi-Purpose Facility, Friday, Feb. 17. Peabody served for many years on Tribal Council, including her tenure as Vice Chair. Krista Richards | SU Drum

Elise Redd, Ramona Eagle, members of the Southern Ute Tribal Council, and SUIMA students took to the mic to wish Peabody a happy birthday and thank her for her years of dedication. “When I got on to Tribal Council in 2014, Vida was very instrumental in helping me become a leader for our tribe,” Eagle said. “She was there to let me know what was expected as a council member – I really enjoyed her giving me advice and showing me the ropes in serving on Tribal Council, so thank you Vida, I appreciate that.” 

Peabody was presented with a gift from Tribal Council after many heartfelt words, then a group of students from the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy gathered to sing a Betty Howe song in her honor. Led by Daisy Bluestar, the students sang in Ute alongside Peabody.  

Peabody thanked everyone who came to enjoy a meal and celebrate this monumental event with her and the family.  

“Thank you for coming and I appreciate each and every one of you,” Peabody said. “That’s where I get my strength is the love that comes from each and every one of my family, because without their love, I don’t think I could have survived. I hope that everything turns out well for you, and I thank you for coming, I will never forget this day. Thank you very much — God bless you.” 

Students from the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy give introductions and birthday wishes to Southern Ute tribal elder, Vida Peabody. For many who attended the event, this was the first time meeting the former Tribal Council member in person. Fabian Martinez | SU Drum

To wrap up the momentous event, members of the Southern Ute Royalty and Southern Ute Tribal Council helped to cut and hand out slices of birthday cake. Attendees enjoyed a raffle, often put on during the Sip, Chat, and Chew events, which concluded the celebration.  

Peabody’s great granddaughter, Gibran Silva, also expressed how grateful and proud the family is to have a strong and loving role model in their lives.  

“It made me feel really good to see her hit that accomplishment and it made me proud of her too,” Silva said. “[Vida] used a lot of her inner strength to guide us, and that taught everyone in our family how to find their inner strength and use that, and still be compassionate and graceful.” 

“I think it’s really important that she knows how proud we are of her and how appreciative [we are] that she stuck around the community, and was passionate in everything she did,” Silva said. “We appreciate everything that she’s ever sacrificed for us.”  

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