indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Opinion: Southern Ute Tribe sees success in energy industry

Filed Under: Environment | Opinion
More on: colorado, economic development, energy, southern ute
     


Southern Ute Tribe headquarters in Ignacio, Colorado. Photo from Southern Ute Tribe

Writer says the Southern Ute Tribe in Colorado has shown how energy development can bring a positive impact in Indian Country:
Amidst all the negativity one often reads about the predicament of indigenous communities worldwide, particularly with reference to extractive industries investments on their land, it is important to consider some ingredients of successful stories as well. The Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwestern Colorado presents some cause for optimism about how extractive industries — in this case coal-bed methane (or coal-seam gas as it is called in Australia and the UK) — can potentially serve a constructive purpose when handled with care and good governance.

The reservation covers an area of 1,059 square miles, with the tribal headquarters located in Ignacio, Colorado. The Tribe is relatively small, with only slightly more than 1,400 tribal members, 1,000 of whom reside on the reservation. Unemployment is lower than the national average for Native residents of reservations, and at $20,400, per capita income is sharply higher than the national Native reservation resident level of $11,400. Half of the 1,500 tribal government employees are enrolled Southern Ute tribal citizens.

This remarkably innovative community is among the most successful tribal natural resources developers, estimated in 1994 to produce 82 percent of the nation’s coalbed methane gas within the borders of the Tribe’s southwestern Colorado reservation.108 In leveraging their role as both mineral titleholder and regulatory authority, the Southern Ute have cultivated “thick” internal capacity and diversified their business interests. Deliberate financial forethought and independent leadership have solidified a degree of “financial sovereignty” yet unrealized by any other major extractive tribe; the self-created Growth Fund and Permanent Fund are reported to have had combined unrestricted cash and investments as of 2012 of $1.88 billion, with a AAA rating by Fitch Ratings.

Such extraordinary success is by no means formulaic. The leadership of Chairman Leonard Burch, who, when first elected, was the youngest leader to hold that office, set a vision and laid a path by which the Southern Ute were able to transition from a passive relationship with the federal agencies in which the Tribe acted merely as a mineral lessor for tribal trust minerals. The alternative path taken by Southern Ute has been to be the active and authoritative force in the development of reservation resources, a force that private companies have come to respect and work with to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. As noted by High Country News, “The Southern Ute have achieved cultural, environmental, and economic self-determination through energy self-determination—a feat rarely accomplished, whether by Indians or non-Indians”.

Get the Story:
Saleem Ali: Methane and the Transformation of an Indigenous Community in Colorado (National Geographic News Watch 6/16)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
President Obama meets Native leaders after landing in Alaska (9/1)
Rhonda Pitka: Alaska Natives put priority on subsistence rights (9/1)
Transcript: Obama remarks following Native leaders roundtable (9/1)
94-year-old Alaska Native elder greets Obama with Denali song (9/1)
Politicians in Ohio oppose return of Alaska Native name for peak (9/1)
Center for Native American Youth seeks new executive director (9/1)
Supreme Court takes up petition in Kialegee Tribal Town dispute (9/1)
Native Sun News: Teens attacked on Rosebud Sioux Reservation (9/1)
Clara Caufield: Cheyenne brothers and sisters share language (9/1)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Shutting down a new generation of hate (9/1)
Navajo Nation hires firm to pursue Gold King Mine spill lawsuit (9/1)
Young tribal members cited for wild rice harvest in Minnesota (9/1)
Lake named for war secretary who pushed for removal of tribes (9/1)
Tribal college students participate in NASA challenge in Virginia (9/1)
La Jolla Band welcomes visitors to longest zip line in California (9/1)
Chukchansi Tribe still aiming for reopening of casino this month (9/1)
Cherokee Nation contributed $11M to upgrade road near casino (9/1)
President Obama restores Alaska Native name of highest peak (8/31)
BIA announces $1.75M in grants fot tribal education programs (8/31)
Multiple Capitol Hill hearings set into disaster at Gold King Mine (8/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux counselor combats youth suicide (8/31)
Native Sun News: Lakota 57 parents seek counseling for incident (8/31)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: I remember I am alive and a survivor (8/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women betrayed in violence fight (8/31)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Blood quantum used to judge Indian people (8/31)
Sally Jewell: Native youth serve as Ambassadors for the Arctic (8/31)
Turtle Talk Poll: The enduring legacy of Supreme Court decision (8/31)
First Native woman Ashley Callingbull wins Mrs. Universe title (8/31)
Native boy lands role as son of Leonardo DiCaprio in new film (8/31)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe considers petition to legalize hemp (8/31)
Spirit Lake Nation declares state of emergency to fight drugs (8/31)
Mississippi Choctaws pick Phyllis Anderson as chief once again (8/31)
Former Pokagon Band leader to leave Michigan civil rights post (8/31)
More executives targeted in Chippewa Cree Tribe criminal probe (8/31)
Pueblo water system held hostage by county in trespassing spat (8/31)
Kootenai Tribe to create recovery plan for last wild caribou herd (8/31)
Chair of Duwamish Tribe presses Secretary Jewell on recognition (8/31)
Opinion: Islamic extremists are making inroads on reservations (8/31)
Quapaw Tribe still willing to sign no-casino pledge in Arkansas (8/31)
Seneca Nation plans $40M expansion of off-reservation casino (8/31)
Grand Portage Band works on expansion of casino near border (8/31)
BIA clarifies timeline on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino bid (8/31)
Fort Mojave Indian Tribe celebrates grand reopening of casino (8/31)
EJ Montini: Horses treated better than Tohono O'odham Nation (8/31)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.