November 2016

Reconciliation event for Utes was moving

By Art Goodtimes

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY… It was hard not to be moved … Ute elder Roland McCook telling of being forced into a boarding school as a young man. Of being forbidden to speak his own language. Not allowed visits from his family … Of the social, physical and even sexual abuse that many Indian youth of his generation experienced, and how it still tortures them. How they have to live with that shame and anger … 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. How they’ve won in federal court seven times, and yet still are under attack … 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. Imagine someone stealing your horse, he said. And seeing that person riding around on your horse. And not being able to do anything to get that horse back. That’s what it feels like … I had a hard time imagining what it must be like for Utes coming into the San Juans, the mountains where their ancestors lived before the U.S. government forced them out. How complex the feelings must be … Former Governor of Zia Pueblo in New Mexico and boardmember of the Boulder-based Native American Rights Fund Peter Pino telling how his tribe’s sun symbol was appropriated without permission by the state of New Mexico, of how his ancestors lived in this area of Colorado where we now live, and how each year his tribe requires its members to listen to the creation story that names this place and recounts their migration passage down to their current Rio Grande home … Those are only fragments of many things that were said. All of which were and are important parts of the history of this place where we Euro-Americans now live … Videos of the three Indigenous Peoples Day events and the speeches given at each venue will be available from San Miguel County for viewing and sharing.

THE TALKING GOURD

YOU MUST, says the
sign—
finally learning it’s just
paint on wood

-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Western Slope Poet Laureate

WHAT CAN YOU DO? … Stop the congressional assault on tribal sovereignty in Utah. The Ute Indian Tribe is using today’s tools, not bows and arrows, to protect itself. They’ve formed a political action committee [utepac.com] to stop Utah Congressional Rep. Rob Bishop’s many attempts to eradicate tribal homelands. Primary among them is H.R. 5780, the Utah Public Lands Initiative, which would transfer more than 100,000 acres of reservation lands to the state of Utah. I have a fact sheet I can share with anyone interested. Tell our congressional delegation of your strong opposition to H.R. 5780 … Support the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition’s proposal to create a national monument in southwestern Utah on lands sacred to local tribal nations. I have a FAQ brochure I can share with anyone interested. Visit the website and sign the petition: ProtectBearsEars. org … Finally, heeding the calls of many tribal representatives that Indigenous Peoples Day not be a one-time thing, the Telluride Institute has stepped up and agreed to work towards making this an annual event, as well as sponsoring cultural, social and political exchanges into the future.

ANGLOS? … Words matter. As a poet and journalist, I know that well. And so I was very grateful when a constituent recently challenged my use of the term “Anglos” … I’ve never liked the racial term “Whites,” maybe in part because my Italian heritage has gifted me with oliveoil skin. So I’d gotten into the habit of referring to “non-natives,” as the Utes like to call us, as Anglos … But as pointed out, many of us non-natives are not English at all, but derive from many non-English peoples of Europe. “Why not use the term “Euro- Americans?” he asked. And I had to agree. We say African-Americans. Asian- Americans. Native-Americans. So why not Euro-Americans? … Or maybe even Euros, for short…

RELIGION … It seems like many of us -- having myself reached the ripe old age of beyond 70 -- have followed some sort of path of spiritual journey. Maybe sticking with the belief system of family and place. Maybe changing faiths … My spiritual journey has taken me beyond a childhood immigrant Italian Catholicism, into a mature personal faith in Science and now, as an elder, back to the Animism of our Paleolithic roots. It’s what my Silverton teacher Dolores LaChapelle would call, “Deep Ecology.” That’s why plant walks and bug talks are such a big part of my spiritual practice … My friend Bradford Hatcher is developing “Notes for the Next Constitution” – a wholesale revision of the American Constitution with many interesting and fascinating details. One aspect that I particularly love is a Bill of Duties, as well as a Bill of Rights. Citizens forget that with every right goes some responsibility – an aspect of reciprocity sometimes lost in our entitlement society. I also love his concept of Proxy Rights, which he defines thus and which parallels the tenets of Deep Ecology: “These are the rights connected to a sense of stewardship. They require that people step up and claim rights on behalf of other entities and living processes unable to speak for themselves” … If you are interested in government and how our Constitution could be made more relevant and egalitarian, check out Hatcher’s website: www.hermetica.info

SIGN OF THE TIMES … Most folks these days sneeze into their elbow … But geezers (like me) & geezettes can’t seem to break the habit of covering their oral/nasal explosions with one (or more) cupped palms. Not the person you want to be shaking hands with.

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