BIA Fire Management: Six Shooter Fire Contained 07122024


BIA Fire Management – 970.563.4571
Summer Begay, PIO – 970.553.0052
Six Shooter Fire Contained
Southern Ute Indian Reservation – The Six Shooter Fire is 100% contained. The BIA Southern Ute Agency Branch of Fire Management is working to demobilize resources. Thank you to the fire crews and personnel from the San Juan Hotshots, Los Pinos Fire Protection District, Durango Fire Protection District, and the Ute Mountain Ute helicopter team.
Smoke may be visible to the local communities. For information related to air quality, please go to: or
To report fires contact:
– Summer Begay, Communication Specialist

Sky Ute Fairgrounds & RV Park to host Summer Events

The Sky Ute Fairgrounds & RV Park is hosting a variety of events this Summer. Bask in the sun, savor the moment, and make cherished memories with loved ones. There is something for everyone! See the flyer for all our scheduled Summer events. For questions related to any of the Summer activities and scheduled events, please reach out to Jay Dee Brunson, Sky Ute Fairgrounds & RV Park Manager at (970)-563-5541.

Southern Ute Indian Tribe Takes Legal Action to Receive Fair Treatment by State


Melvin J. Baker, Chairman – 970.563.2320

Summer Begay, Communication Specialist– 970.563.2313




Southern Ute Indian Tribe Takes Legal Action to Receive Fair Treatment by State


After Four Years of Being Stonewalled, Tribal Lawsuit Works to Ensure State Honors its Compact and Offer Equal Access to Economic Opportunities

Southern Ute Indian Reservation –– At the American Indian Affairs Interim Study Committee’s inaugural meeting, Chairman Melvin J. Baker of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe announced that the Tribe has filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado to ensure fair access to economic opportunities voted into law by Colorado voters in 2019.

The Southern Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes have been unfairly blocked by the Colorado Department of Revenue from engaging in online sports betting, despite longstanding State-Tribal Compacts explicitly allowing them to do so. After years of attempts to negotiate a fair agreement, the Tribe is asking the federal court for a preliminary injunction so they may compete in an economic market that, effectively, only non-Indian private entities have had primary access to in Colorado since 2020.

“Faced with this ongoing injustice, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is now taking the unfortunate but necessary step of legal action. This is the first time we have been forced to file a lawsuit against the State of Colorado in decades,” Chairman Baker said today during his address to the American Indian Affairs Interim Study Committee. “This lawsuit is not a decision we take lightly. It is about securing a fair resolution and ensuring the State lives up to its obligations to the Tribes as outlined in agreements and federal law. We will fight tirelessly to hold the State accountable for its commitments.”

In the Gaming Compacts, which have been in place for almost 30 years and approved by the federal government, the State agreed that the Tribes can engage in “those gaming activities and bet amounts that are identical to the activities and bet amounts that are authorized in the State of Colorado.”

In 2019, Colorado voters approved Proposition DD, legalizing online sports betting in the state, thus permitting the Tribes to engage in the same activities. However, for the past four years, the Tribe has been stonewalled by the State, unfairly prevented from accessing these economic opportunities.

What is the reason for banning the Tribes from equal access to this market?

It all comes down to the fact that federal law does not allow the taxation of tribal gaming activities and mandates that any revenue must be used for Tribal governmental operations and the general welfare of Tribal Members.

The short answer? The State is not allowed to tax the Tribes and they want to.

The State has actively overlooked the millions of dollars of annual investments that reflect the Tribe’s commitment to supporting and improving the well-being of Colorado residents and addressing service gaps. And instead, it has relentlessly sought to unfairly prevent the Tribes from accessing these opportunities, including by wrongly threatening vendors supporting tribal sports betting operations and by trying to force the Tribes to forfeit their sovereignty.

“Not only does the State refuse to recognize the agreements we made that ensure access to these economic opportunities, but they ignore our significant investments that we make every year in southwest Colorado – including protecting Colorado water quality. We invest in water, clean air, healthcare, housing, broadband, and so much more for our Tribal Members and for the 12,000 Coloradans who within the boundaries of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation with benefits that resonate to residents in surrounding communities. The Tribe is also the largest employer in La Plata County. We pride ourselves on being partners to the State of Colorado,” stated Chairman Baker.

This year, Colorado state legislators had capacity to refer a measure to the 2024 ballot that will amend the 2019 law to increase taxes on sports betting, and yet have not fixed the issues that unfairly exclude the Tribes from this economic opportunity. After implementing sports betting in 2022, the State of Kansas quickly amended their law last year to allow tribal gaming entities to participate in online sports betting, recognizing the unfair competitive disadvantage initially created.

While other states have amicably resolved similar issues, the State of Colorado and gaming industry lobbyists have unfairly blocked the Tribe’s efforts to fix this oversight. With unwavering commitment to fairness and a steadfast resolve to hold the State to its word, we can ensure a future where the promises of today blossom into a brighter tomorrow.





Summer R. Begay

Communication Specialist | Tribal Council Affairs

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

P.O. Box 737 Ignacio, CO 81137

Office: 970-563-2313

Work Cell: 970-553-0052

Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Phone System is Currently Down

Southern Ute Shared Services has been notified of a link strike on a CenturyLink cable in the town of Ignacio. It is impacting the Tribe’s ability to take incoming calls and make external calls. The Help Desk is aware and SUSS is assessing the impact. If critical phone numbers are not working, please send your request to the Southern Ute Tribe’s general email box at or visit. for specific tribal department contact information. The 911 line has also been impacted, please dial (970) 385-2900, Durango’s central dispatch’s non-emergent line, for any dispatch requests or emergencies at this time while service to (970) 563-4401, is restored. The Southern Ute Health Center has also posted an alternate line of (970) 442-1887 for any medical requests at this time. We will post updates as service is restored accordingly.
Graphic Created By: Summer Begay, Communication Specialist
– Tribal Information Services

For Immediate Release: Tribal Council Welcomes New Education Director: Dr. Joseph Claunch 07012024

Melvin J. Baker, Chairman – 970.563.2320
Summer Begay, Communication Specialist– 970.563.2313
Tribal Council Welcomes New Education Director: Dr. Joseph Claunch
Southern Ute Indian Reservation – Chairman Melvin J. Baker, Tribal Council, and Executive Officer Lindsay J. Box are delighted to welcome Dr. Joseph Claunch as the new Director of the Department of Education, effective today, July 1, 2024.
“Dr. Claunch’s dedication to fostering academic success and cultural identity within Native American communities is truly inspiring,” said Chairman Baker.  “His extensive experience in education leadership, combined with his passion for serving Indigenous youth, makes him an ideal fit to lead our Department of Education. We look forward to his contributions as we continue to provide our students with a culturally rich and positive educational experience.”
A member of the Puyallup Tribe of Tacoma, Washington, Dr. Claunch has dedicated nearly 20 years to educating and empowering Native American youth. Throughout his career, he has served as a classroom teacher, athletic coach, youth program leader, and most recently, the Executive Director of the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project for the Pueblo of Zuni in New Mexico.
Dr. Claunch holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies from Haskell Indian Nations University, a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the University of Kansas.
During this transition, the Department of Education will continue to offer services and assistance to our students, families, and staff. You may contact the Department of Education at 970-563-0237.

BIA Southern Ute Agency: Wildland Firefighter Vacancy

The Bureau of Indian Affairs Southern Ute Agency is advertising for Wildland Firefighter position. The duty station is Ignacio, Colorado. Applicants must be Firefighter Type 1 (FFT1) certified and have completed the S-290 Training Course. The closing date is July 08, 2024.  Please seek the link to apply: Wildland Firefighter: USAJOBS – Job Announcement

For further inquiry, please contact the Strategic Recruitment Office at 405-768-4060.

Southern Ute Digital Equity Program: July Training

The Southern Ute Digital Equity Program (SUDEP) will provide Microsoft-Power Point Training on July 17th and 18th from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. This will be held at the Growth Fund Building, light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Seating is limited and open to all Southern Ute Tribal Members. The first 10 Tribal Members to sign up and attend the training will receive a $25 gift card to Walmart.

Sign up today! Contact SUDEP at 970-563-5555

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tribal Council Welcomes New Directors: MacMillan and Langefels

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – Vice Chairman Lorelei Cloud, Tribal Council, and Executive Officer Lindsay J. Box welcomed Elizabeth Quinn MacMillan (photo right) as the new Director of the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum this morning. Ms. MacMillan brings a wealth of experience and a deep respect for Indigenous history and culture to this important role.

“We welcome Elizabeth to the team,” said Vice Chairman Lorelei Cloud. “Together we will preserve and share the history of the Nuuchiu.”

MacMillan holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington College and a Master of Arts in Public History from Loyola University Chicago.  Throughout her career, she has gained extensive experience working with cultural institutions and organizations dedicated to preserving the history of the Southwest.  Her previous positions include work with the Bureau of Land Management’s Canyons of the Ancients, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, and most recently, the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College.

Tribal Council also welcomed Lizette Langefels (photo left) as the Southern Ute Health Center Director last week. Langefels brings 17 years of experience from Animas Surgical Hospital in addition to holding a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Fort Lewis College and a Master of Business Administration with a Health Care emphasis from Adams State University.

Vice Chairman Cloud shared, “The world of healthcare is constantly evolving, presenting both challenges and exciting opportunities. With Lizette’s experience and vision, I am confident we can navigate towards a healthier future.”