From the Telluride Daily Planet, Letter to the Editor:
Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday celebrates Native American peoples and honors their history, culture, and contributions. This has been celebrated in San Miguel County since 2016, when our local communities hosted representatives from the Ute people at the Sheridan Opera House for a celebration of our community’s initial movement towards reconciliation with the region’s first peoples.
In his Up Bear Creek column, Art Goodtimes shared details, including:
“Ute elder Roland McCook telling of being forced into a boarding school as a young man … of being forbidden to speak his own language (and) not allowed visits from his family … of the social, physical and even sexual abuse that many Indian youth of his generation experienced …Ute Indian Tribal Chair Shaun Chapoose and Business Committee member Bruce Ignacio relating how they wanted to respect a day of healing but how they’ve had to fight the State of Utah and surrounding towns to preserve tribal sovereignty … Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chair Manuel Heart explaining how his tribe has had to deal with the different governments of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and even Arizona to preserve their language and their culture … how Euro-Americans have broken many promises, and how he hoped that wouldn’t happen again with our community’s outreach to his people … Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Councilmember and Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk explaining how five tribes have come together, healing their own divisions, hoping to convince the President to use his executive powers to protect land sacred to her people and the other allied tribal nations … Southern Ute Indian Tribal Chair Clement Frost using a simple parable to relate the hurt that still simmers under the skin…”
This was an important beginning. Over the years, the Telluride Institute has carried on the tradition of honoring our Ute neighbors. Art Goodtimes helped start this effort an Mandy White continued the work when Art took sick with his first cancer. And now, Madeline Gonzalez Allen is transitioning into the role of new director of our Indigenous Program at the Telluride Institute, with Art continuing on as an advisor.
We will continue projects including a Ute Youth Ski Day in collaboration with the Telluride Ski Company, Telluride Sports, the Town of Mountain Village, the Town of Telluride, and other partners. We’ll also be exploring new opportunities to elevate Indigenous perspectives, and to grow and nourish relationships between our greater Telluride community, regional Ute neighbors, and the Nature we are all part of, through collaborative events and learning opportunities, with projects including: learning and applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge in our own region, offering assistance with adopting the Ute curriculum that’s been adopted by the Colorado Department of Education, roundtable discussions with Indigenous leaders in collaboration with the Wilkinson Public Library and other partners, exhibits and programming in collaboration with the Telluride Historical Museum, and more.
Madeline Gonzalez Allen