In 1873, the confederated bands of Utes ceded a large portion of their 1868 reservation to the Federal government under a treaty commonly known as the “Brunot Agreement”. This ceded area – or “Brunot Area” – is approximately 3.7 million acres of the San Juan Mountain region within the State of Colorado. The Agreement represented a major loss to the reservation land base and was yet another blow to the Utes’ traditional hunting-and-gathering way of life.
Included within the 1873 Agreement was an important provision reserving for the Utes the right to “hunt upon said land so long as the game lasts and the Indians are at peace with the white people.” Despite the continued loss of lands, the corresponding reduction in the size of the Ute reservation, and the relocation of certain Ute bands outside of Colorado – this reserved right within the Brunot Area has remained undiminished to this day. Based on historical evidence and testimonials from Ute elders, this reserved right includes not only hunting but also fishing and gathering activities by which the Utes supported themselves in the region for centuries prior to the Agreement.
In 2008, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe entered a new agreement – this time with the State of Colorado – addressing the Tribe’s exercise of its long-held Brunot Area hunting and fishing rights. This agreement – or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – details how the Tribe and State approach Brunot Area hunting, fishing, and wildlife law enforcement, and expresses the intent of both governments to work cooperatively toward long-term conservation of wildlife within the Brunot Area. With the completion of the MOU, Tribal Members are once again able to exercise the Tribe’s long-held rights to hunt and fish within the Brunot Area, in accordance with regulations established by the Tribe.
This document is an annual proclamation, approved by the Southern Ute Tribal Council, and applies only to hunting and fishing by enrolled Southern Ute Tribal Members within the Brunot Area. For more information, please contact the Tribe’s Division of Wildlife Resource Management.
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