October 2016

County hosts reconciliation event for tribes

By Art Goodtimes

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY… Following a government-to-government apology to the Uncompahgre Utes for their forced march out of the San Miguel Basin in 1881, San Miguel County has called for a plaque dedication, speeches by Ute and Anglo officials, and Indian dancing/drumming at three venues on Saturday, Oct. 8. The towns of Mountain Village and Telluride are co-sponsors and all five municipalities in the county will be presenting resolutions welcoming the Ute people back to their indigenous homeland for a day of healing and education … Tribal officials from the Ute Indian Tribe of Fort Duchesne (UT), the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Towaoc and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe of Ignacio have been invited. Confirmed speakers include former Ute Indian Tribe Chairman and event co-organizer Roland McCook; Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman Manuel Heart; Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk; Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs Director Ernest House, Jr.; Native American Rights Fund board member Peter Pino of the Zia Pueblo; former Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, Duke historian and Ridgway rancher Peter R. Decker, who wrote the book, “The Utes Must Go!” archaeologist Sally Crum, who wrote, People of the Red Earth – American Indians of Colorado; and former White River National Forest Public Affairs Officer and Tribal Liaison Bill Kight … The morning of Oct. 8 we will be praying and dedicating a plaque in the county’s Placerville Park, commemorating the Ute people (Nuche) who lived within our county boundaries before their removal to reservations. In the afternoon we will go up to the Mountain Village for a reading of a resolution welcoming the Nuche by Mayor Pro Tem Martin McKinley. In the evening the Sheridan Opera House will feature talks by Ute and Anglo speakers – helping to heal the injustices of the past, as part of an ongoing reconciliation process, and updating county citizens on current Ute and Native American issues … The mayors from Norwood, Sawpit, Telluride, and Ophir will also speak briefly at the evening event, presenting their resolutions welcoming the Nuche … We envision the event as a community day of healing, of education, and as a way to promote future cultural and political exchanges among the Nuche and county citizens.


Elaine’s Deathbed

High up the slope
The room all windows

Looking out, up & down
on the adopted town
she loved & accepted

Like a husband lost
Like a watch unwound
Taking it all in

BEARS EARS … Tough choice. Are you going to support Utah legislator Rob Bishop’s backroom plan to open for church development lands held in deep revere by indigenous tribes, or a proposal for a national monument brokered between regional Indians and national Enviros that gives some management responsibilities to Native Americans, not just the Park Service?

DAKOTA PIPELINE … Real tough choice. Industrial Growth Society’s Oil & Gas Syndicate plotting a spilling line though native lands versus an encampment of the people – thousands native and non-native, saying NO! Some of whom are being helped from here.

ELAINE FISCHER … A four-term San Miguel County commissioner and former mayor of Telluride, Elaine Cantor Fischer died this past spring at the age of 62 … “She may be remembered most for bringing an extraordinary grace and kindness to Telluride’s rough-and-tumble politics in her nearly four decades of public service,” wrote former Telluride Watch editor Marta Tarbell.

TRICKSTER RIDGE … Nothing like a full moon to get a bunch of poet pals of the mercurial Wendy Videlock of Palisade howling like coyotes – into the windy canyons above the peach trees of East Orchard Mesa. An accomplished poet and visual artist, Wendy attracted a houseful of bards from around the state to spend three days in September discussing literature and hearing each other perform. David Rothman of the graduate writing program at Gunnison’s Western State Colorado University did a dazzling explication of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “To a Skylark,” noting the clever techniques used to advance a lyrical argument that there was no way to capture the “harmonious madness” of this amazing bird … Kierstin Bridger, author of Demimonde from Lithic Press (2016), led a workshop on “The Wide Plains of Taboo” and Rachel Kellum, who teaches at Morgan Community College on the Eastern Plains, led another in ekphrastic poems – those inspired by works of art … The Western Slope’s master poet, Jack Mueller of Log Hill Village, gave a spirited reading at Lithic Books in Fruita on Saturday night. And veterinarian- poet Dr. Zoey Benally of Crownpoint enlivened a Friday night reading with her hilarious poem about Lysol douching – a not uncommon practice in the squeaky-clean ’50s.

HEADWATERS 27 State historian Patricia Nelson Limerick laid out a paradox in her keynote address at Western State Colorado University’s Headwaters conference last month. The annual event celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by focusing on its benefit to the American people. Western lit lion Wallace Stegner had famously called the Park Service “America’s Best Idea.” But there was an irony to that thought. The parks were preserved in a “natural” state by a post-colonial culture that had – through the discredited principle of manifest destiny – systematically dispossessed the parks’ traditional owners of their homelands. In reality, the only thing natural about many national parks was that they represented landscapes devoid of the very people who inhabited them for thousands of years … Speakers and students wrestled with that paradox and others over the course of the conference, hearing from Park Service public affairs officer Alex Picavet about the brouhaha over unleashed dogs at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; from Sonoma State professor Laura Watt about her new book, The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore; and from Jennifer Richter of Arizona State University about the conundrum of an expanding nuclearenergy industry in the face of the nation’s failed attempt to build a national nuclearwaste facility.

Art Goodtimes is a five-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.