Solving the myriad problems facing Utah's Indian population is going to take more of the communication that marked Thursday's gathering of government officials and Indians, participants said.
Representatives from six Utah Indian tribes attended the meeting, which was a first between the Board of Indian Affairs and the Indian Task Force Committee, recently set up by the Legislature.Tom Lovell, Board of Indian Affairs member, said he hopes Thursday's gathering is but the first of many such meetings. only by improving communication between Indian and political leaders can the tribes' social and economic problems be addressed, he said.
Other tribal representatives also welcomed the meeting and the formation of the Indian Task Force Committee, while others expressed a wait-and-see attitude about what the task force may accomplish.
"There are a lot of problems and there are going to be a lot of problems," Lovell said. Lovell and Travis Parashonts, another board member, attributed many of those problems to the fact that Indians generally have been overlooked by state officials.
Utah's congressmen "have not been involved as much as they need to be" in Indian affairs, Lovell added. Now that the Ute Indian Tribe has the attention of Utah's congressional delegation, he said, perhaps Indians will begin to get governmental assistance and cooperation in solving problems.
Because numerous projects promised to the Ute Indian Tribe as part of the Central Utah P>roject never materialized, the tribe recently invalidated its 1965 agreement that allowed transfer of tribal water to the Wasatch Front as part of the CUP. Negotiations are under way to settle the conflict.
"The Ute tribe has really been pushed around in the state of Utah, and now they're making a stand," Lovell said. "They only want what's coming to them. They're not asking for anything more."
The CUP flap, however, is just one of many issues that need state attention, Indian leders said. Alcoholism, economic development and unemployment also must be addressed.
"We've got the highest unemployment in the state of Utah," Lovell said, a fact that prompted the board to pass a resolution encouraging government agencies to make a greater effort to hire Utah's Indians.
"It's good to see all the tribes here voicing concerns that are similar," said Navajo representative Daniel Marianito of those representing the Goshute, Paiute, Northwestern Shoshone, Ute and White Mesa Ute tribes.