Reflections on Reconciliation
Program Roots in San Miguel County by former Program Director, Art Goodtimes
Native-American legal scholar Walter Echo-Hawk has called out five parts to reconciliation — the incident, an apology, the acceptance of an apology, reparations or restitution of some kind, and finally a state of reconciliation. Many people are afraid of the reparations/restitution component. Like getting Jewish property back to rightful descendants after the European Holocaust. Or making reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves. Restitution for the original theft of the indigenous homelands we Euro–Americans now live on and own is what scares politicians and some church leaders from calling for reconciliation.
In 1998, San Miguel County stopped calling October 10th Columbus Day, and changed the name of the holiday it offered to its employees to Indigenous Peoples Day, at the request of San Miguel County’s Green Party Commissioner Art Goodtimes of Wrights Mesa.
In 2000, the Town of Ophir’s Mayor David Glynn got his community to pass a resolution calling for the U.S. Government to apologize for its past injustices to native peoples, to honor its treaties, and to respect tribes as sovereign nations. (Read more by clicking the link below.)
Ophir erected a monument outside of town with a plaque honoring the Ute people. In the ensuing years, both the Town of Telluride and the Town of Mountain Village erected monuments honoring the Utes.
In 2014 San Miguel County made a formal government-to-government apology to the Ute Indian Tribe — in particular the Uncompahgre Band, which makes up a third of the Utah reservation — for their ancestors’ forced removal from Western Colorado, including lands now within the boundaries of San Miguel County.
In 2015 Ute elder and former tribal chair Roland McCook and Commissioner Goodtimes made a formal presentation of that apology resolution to the tribe at their Fort Duchesne headquarters in Utah. The apology was accepted by the Uncompahgre Utes assembled in the hall.
In 2016, McCook and Goodtimes spearheaded a multi-government celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 8th — beginning with the dedication of a memorial plaque in Placerville, two dance & drum performances — in the Mountain Village’s Heritage Plaza and Telluride’s Oak St. Mall, and an evening of healing and education at the Sheridan Opera House, where the mayors or their representatives from all five government entities read municipal resolutions welcoming the Utes back to the land that was once theirs (Telluride, Mountain Village, Ophir, Sawpit, and Norwood).
Speakers included Ute Indian Tribe Chair Shaun Chapoose, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chair Manuel Heart, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Councilmember Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, Southern Ute Indian Tribal Chair Clement Frost, Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs Director Ernest House, Jr., Native American Rights Fund Boardmember Peter Pino, historian and author Peter Decker, and archaeologist Sally Crum.
Retiring from local politics in 2017, Goodtimes has teamed up with McCook to found a Ute Reconciliation program at the Telluride Institute to continue the work of reconciliation. TI will be sponsoring the Indigenous Peoples Day events in San Miguel County each fall from now on. And the program will initiate cultural exchanges of various kinds to continue the healing and education. We are currently working on a winter ski day for Ute youth, and summer festival invocations by Ute elders.
We particularly want to thank on-going support from Dan Collins, Audrey Marnoy and Durfee Day for their assistance in getting this program moved from the public to the private, non-profit sector. And to welcome Mandy White of Telluride as the new Program Director.