Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Please read the news release from the Office of the Assistant Secretary Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Assistant Secretary Sweeney Names Johnna Blackhair as Deputy Bureau Director, Trust Services, and Patricia Mattingly as Southwest Regional Director
WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney announced the appointment of two leadership posts within the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Johnna Blackhair, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Montana, will serve as Deputy Bureau Director for Trust Services at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Patricia Mattingly, of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico and the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, will serve as Regional Director of the Bureau’s Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque, N.M. The appointments were effective September 15 and 30, 2019, respectively.
“I am very excited to announce the appointment of two experienced managers to my senior BIA leadership team: Johnna Blackhair as Deputy Bureau Director of Trust Services, and Patricia Mattingly as Regional Director of the BIA’s Southwest Regional Office,” said Assistant Secretary Sweeney. “They bring deep experience to these high-level management posts, and will provide valuable assistance to me as we increase flexibility in the BIA’s operations and regulations to support tribal self-determination and economic self-sufficiency.”
The Department of Interior is committed to providing consistent and focused leadership in all of Indian Affairs, as well as to actively collaborate with the Department’s senior managers. Among the top priorities is to fill leadership positions with highly qualified managers who will provide continuity and expertise in trust management in accordance with its mission.
“I am extremely pleased that Johnna Blackhair and Patricia Mattingly have joined the BIA’s central office and field leadership corps,” said BIA Director Darryl LaCounte. “Their combined years of experience from working at the agency and regional office levels will prove invaluable as we work to make the BIA more responsive to Indian Country’s needs and priorities.”
Ms. Blackhair has 28 years of federal service starting in September 1991 with the BIA’s Uintah and Ouray Agency in Fort Duchene, UT. From April 2010, she gained extensive experience in the management of land titles and records, real estate services, probate, agriculture, and cadastral surveys, coordinating with the Bureau of Land Management as the Regional Realty Officer in the Southwest Regional Office. She has held a number of BIA field leadership positions including Mescalero Agency Superintendent (2011-2012); Uintah and Ouray Agency
Superintendent (2012-2013); Eastern Regional Office Deputy Regional Director (2013-2014);
and Eastern Regional Office Regional Director (2014-2015). Prior to her recent appointment,
Ms. Blackhair had served as BIA Trust Services’s acting Associate Deputy Bureau Director
since January 2018, and as acting Deputy Bureau Director since April 2018.
“I deeply appreciate the confidence placed in me to lead BIA Trust Services, whose mission is a
basic component of the Federal trust responsibility to the tribes and allottees with trust lands and resources,” Deputy Bureau Director for Trust Services Johnna Blackhair said. “I am very
grateful to the Assistant Secretary and Director LaCounte for this new opportunity to serve
Indian Country. I will do my utmost to see that we in OTS carry out our mission to the best of
The BIA Office of Trust Services is primarily located in Washington, D.C. and Albuquerque,
N.M., and assists tribal governments and allottees in managing, protecting and developing their trust lands and natural resources, which total 56 million surface acres and 60 million acres of subsurface mineral estates. Trust Services programs aid landowners in the stewardship of their resources not only to protect their cultural, spiritual and traditional uses, but in optimizing those which tribal governments depend on through the revenues and jobs they generate.
Patricia Mattingly began her federal career with the Department in 2003 in Albuquerque, N.M.,
as an Attorney Advisor in the Solicitor’s Office. She joined the BIA’s Southwest Regional
Office as Regional Legal Administrative Specialist, then later moved to the BIA’s Western
Regional Office in Phoenix, A.Z., as Associate Director of the Division of Probate and Estate
Services. She eventually returned to the Southwest Regional Office as a Tribal Government
Officer, and where she was later promoted to the post of Deputy Regional Director for Indian
Services. Ms. Mattingly holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of
New Mexico, and a Juris Doctorate from the UNM School of Law.
“I thank the Assistant Secretary and Director LaCounte for this opportunity to lead the Southwest Regional Office,” Regional Director Patricia Mattingly said. “I am committed to improving the level of regional office responsiveness to the needs of the tribal nations we serve, while also supporting their self-determination and economic development goals.”
The BIA Southwest Regional Office is located in Albuquerque, N.M., and oversees nine
agencies serving the 25 federally recognized tribes in Colorado and New Mexico and the Ysleta
del Sur Pueblo in El Paso, Texas.
As the oldest bureau in the U.S. Department of the Interior, established in 1824, the BIA is
within the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, along with the Bureau of Indian
Education. The BIA provides services (directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts) to
approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. With just under 5,000
employees, the BIA carries out its core mission for 573 federally recognized American Indian
tribes and Alaska Natives in the U.S. through four offices:
•Office of Indian Services: operates BIA’s general assistance, disaster relief, Indian child
welfare, tribal government, Indian Self-Determination, and reservation roads programs;
•Office of Justice Services: operates or funds law enforcement, tribal courts, and detention facilities on Federal Indian lands;
•Office of Trust Services: works directly with tribes and individual American Indians and Alaska Natives in the management of their trust lands, assets, and resources; and Office of Field Operations: oversees 12 regional offices and 83 agencies which carry out the BIA mission at the tribal level.
Visit BIA.gov for more information.
Provider Letter on Tribal Member Health Benefits Plan – TPA Change
Please share this letter with your healthcare provider regarding the recent change in Third Party Administrator (TPA) for the Tribal Member Health Benefits Plan. If providers have questions regarding claims and payment, please direct them to Tribal Member Health Benefits Coordinators:
- Erika Atencio – (w) 970.563.4704 or 970.563.2211 or email@example.com
- Elizabeth “Cindy” Gallegos – (w) 970.563.4813 or 970.563.2203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Click on the link below to open the letter which can be saved and emailed or printed.
Please be advised The CO State Child Welfare Financial Assistance Program under the Southern Ute Social Service Department was scheduled to start July 1, 2019. At this time the funding for the program will not be available as scheduled. An announcement will be sent out when the funding is available. Please call Social Service Division Head at 970-563-4731 or Tribal Services Director at 970-563-4729 in the event you have any questions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Christine Sage, Chairman – 970.563.0100
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 2, 2019 – 9:05 A.M.
Shane Seibel selected as Executive Director of Southern Ute Growth Fund
Southern Ute Indian Reservation – The Southern Ute Growth Fund operates and manages the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s businesses and business investments, overseeing a significant portfolio of companies and investments in energy, real estate, construction, and private equity. The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Shane Seibel, as the Southern Ute Growth Fund Executive Director.
“On behalf of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, I look forward to working with Mr. Seibel as he assumes the role of Executive Director of the Southern Ute Growth Fund,” said Chairman Christine Sage.
“I am humbled and excited to be selected as the new Southern Ute Growth Fund Executive Director and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. The challenges are coming from all directions and assembling a team of professionals that exemplify a great attitude, honest, and willingness to work hard for the membership’s equity will be paramount to our continued success,” said Seibel.
For the last five years, Mr. Seibel has been the owner and operator of ONE Enterprises, LLC. He previously spent 20 years working in various leadership positions within the Southern Ute Growth Fund.
Seibel obtained his Bachelor’s of Science, Business Management in 2013 from Fort Lewis College. Seibel, and his wife Melanie, have six children: Roman, Dylan, Trae, Cloe, Ellie, Clay and one exchange daughter Miriam and six grandchildren. He is a lifelong learner, farmer/rancher, coach, Sundancer, and entrepreneur.
Seibel will assume the new position on Monday, July 8, 2019.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Christine Sage, Chairman – 970.563.0100
Patrick Vaughn, Southern Ute Growth Fund – 970.563.5000
Hayes Briskey, Southern Ute Utilities Division – 970.563.5500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 24, 2019 – 3:30 P.M.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe clarifies relationship with the Town of Ignacio and on-going water and wastewater rate discussion
Southern Ute Indian Reservation – For decades, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has maintained and valued its long-standing intergovernmental relationship with the Town of Ignacio. The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council and the Town Board of Trustees, along with the Town Manager, meet frequently to discuss various issues of common interest.
The Tribe, through its Utilities Division administered by the Southern Ute Growth Fund, provides treated water, wastewater and natural gas service to the tribal campus, local tribal members residing near Ignacio and the Town of Ignacio. Two years ago, the Town of Ignacio expressed concern that the water and wastewater rates charged by the Tribe were higher than those of other water and wastewater providers in the area. Since that time, the Tribe and the Town have been discussing water and wastewater rates and jointly engaged an independent third-party contractor to conduct a rate study.
It is important to note four significant issues in this discussion:
- The Tribe has spent $40 million of its own money (no grant funding) on modern facilities that meet or exceed all applicable regulations for water and wastewater services. These costs are NOT included in our utility rate structure. Even now, the Tribe is in the process of building a new $3 million reservoir for the water system that will provide additional emergency storage and redundancy. Again, the costs for the reservoir are not included in our utility rate structure. These and other tribal-funded infrastructure improvements have been important and generous contributions to the community.
- The Utilities Division water and wastewater funds are running at a deficit and rates need to adjust to break even. We do not operate the Utilities Division as a profit center.
- The Growth Fund does not charge the Utilities Division for overhead related to oversight, HR or accounting and therefore, that overhead is not allocated to our utility rate structure.
- The utility rates charged the Town are the same rates charged to the Tribe and the tribal member customers.
The Southern Ute Utilities Division is proposing an increase in water and wastewater rates as follows:
WATER: Current Rate: $32.80 base per 8,000 gallons + $4.10 per 1,000 gal thereafter
Proposed 2020 Rate: $47.80 base per 6,000 gallons + $5.00 per 1,000 gal thereafter
Proposed 2021 Rate: $62.80 base per 6,000 gallons + $6.00 per 1,000 gal thereafter
2022 and beyond: CPI-U increase annually
By way of comparison, here are some of the rates per 6,000 gallons charged currently by other area utilities for ¾ inch water service:
LPAWD: $63.80; Forest Lakes: $42.00; Edgemont Ranch: $70.00; Durango: $46.51;
Bayfield: $26.25; Pagosa Springs: $42.79
WASTEWATER: Current Rate: $72.09
Proposed 2020 Rate: $87.09
Proposed 2021 Rate: $102.09
2022 and beyond: CPI-U increase annually
By way of comparison, here are some of the rates per 6,000 gallons charged currently by other area utilities:
Forest Lakes: $29.50; Edgemont Ranch: $95.00; Durango: $93.39 in town;
Durango $186.84 outside town; Bayfield: $49.74; Pagosa Springs: $49.88
During this rate analysis, the Town requested, and the Tribal Utilities concurred that wastewater rates should be based on actual winter water flows to obtain true usage. Now, using our proposed rates and the winter flows, the rates we charge to the Town as a bulk customer will actually go down somewhat from the current bulk rate charged.
The Tribe prioritizes the health of its tribal members and tribal resources such as land and water. We have had no recordable discharge incidents from our wastewater plant since it was built. Very few utility operators in the Four Corners region can make that claim. Our water system has had to deal with the Missionary Ridge fire runoff and siltation for years following the fire. Again, without any violation of standards.
The Tribe also cares about the health and safety of the broader Ignacio community. For example, in 2012, the Tribe (with the Town’s support) waived wastewater and natural gas tap fees as a donation to the Ignacio School District. This waiver significantly reduced the cost of construction of the water main and meter assembly that brings water and fire flow capacity to the school district’s new middle school and the West Mesa region of Ignacio. The new water main also could potentially supply water for any future development in the West Mesa region.
Many water and wastewater providers are now coming to grips with deferred maintenance and ever-increasing operating costs. In fact, in 2018, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs conducted a Colorado Municipal Water and Wastewater Rate Survey. That survey states that “water and wastewater rates appear to double approximately every 15 years.” Building, maintaining and operating these facilities properly costs money. Southern Ute Utilities operators are State of Colorado certified, safeguard plant operations and strive to reduce environmental and health risks. Our circumstance is magnified by operating a quality system spread over a small population. One cannot opportunistically and selectively choose other municipal rates to argue they are being overcharged. Each provider operates a unique system with unique issues. To meet all applicable regulations, the Tribe must incur certain costs in operating its system. Like all utilities providers, the Tribe recovers those costs from rate payers. Unlike some other utilities providers, however, the Tribe is not charging the Town and other rate payors for the capital costs of the Tribe’s system.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Southern Ute Growth Fund, and the Southern Ute Utilities Division will continue to strive to cultivate a constructive and collaborative relationship with the Town of Ignacio while providing the best water and wastewater services in the Four Corners region and Indian country.