Wrongful termination concern

First, disclose that my wife, Linda Mahlum was wrongfully terminated, within the same hour on May 22, 2014, that her Supervisor, 30 year-long Peaceful Spirit employee and Tribal elder, Judy Lansing was, also wrongfully terminated by the (non-native) SUCAP management. Many of you have heard of and been appalled by this.

Now, it is time for the members of the powerful Southern Ute Tribe, to take a close and critical look at this outdated relic of the 1960’s CAP ( Program). SUCAP has dominated Southern Ute services for a half-century. The management has become dominated by highly paid non-Natives. The priority of services for the Southern Utes has been lost. Operations are, in my opinion, secretive. There are no Southern Ute Tribal members serving in these highly paid management positions.

I have had the honor for several years, to know Judy Lansing. I have learned she is an outstanding Tribal member and Elder, who is very dedicated to her family, her People and all community members of Ignacio. The obvious example is her dedication to help those individuals with substance abuse issues. Judy has been both generous and patient while teaching me about so many wonderful Southern Ute Traditions and Culture. Now, I look forward to the Bear Dance and Sun Dance. Because of Judy Lansing, I am learning to understand and appreciate my Southern Ute neighbors. I regard Judy Lansing as an ambassador for the Southern Ute Tribe!

Since I have learned about the problems of SUCAP and the impeccable qualities of Judy Lansing, I can only implore the Southern Ute Tribe to take over Peaceful Spirit. Peaceful Spirit is the SUCAP department that is closest to the heart of the Tribe, where persons heal and learn about themselves in the Native way. Judy Lansing must be returned to her supervisory position. I am certain, after what I know about SUCAP, that Peaceful Spirit has been a much less effective treatment center without her. Her goal is to help people, not to remain in an overpaid position until a car is paid off as one non-Native supervisor stated. Actually, SUCAP should be defunded so that Southern Utes can decide what programs best serve the people and which are meant to line the pockets of non-Native managers.

The Southern Ute Tribe, a sovereign nation has the authority to make this change. I fully agree with the position articulated so well by Yvonne Tree in recent Drum issue. Pearl Casias in the Durango Herald was exceptional in the voicing of her concerns. My opinion is: Don’t just make the attempt to learn and preserved the Ute Language-also, have your own people take positions and responsibilities, through education, mentorships and internships!

So, Tribal members, insist that Judy Lansing be returned to her position at Peaceful Spirit. She deserves that dignity and respect after all she has done for the community as an effective Counselor. Also, insist that Peaceful Spirit go under the wind of the Tribe. This travesty of justice can be corrected. The Southern Ute Indian Nation must not be taken advantage of anymore! Remember this when SUCAP celebrates its 50th birthday this year. More non-Natives will be celebrating it than deserving Natives for whom the program was originally intended. It is time to stand up to the money oriented non-Native culture and its SUCAP masters who now profit more from this outdated organization than Southern Utes. Will you simply sit by while yet another Native is egregiously wronged by the dominant white and their culture?

Mark Mahlum

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