The new members of the Ute Tribal Business Committee have spent their first three months in office trying to hold on to their victory. Now that it looks as if their seats are secure, the trio of political newcomers say they're looking forward to getting on with what they promised voters they'd do if elected - change things for the better.
Larry Blackhair said he plans to focus much of his attention on the tribe's youths."There are no programs for young people from the ages of 12 to 18," said Blackhair, a former juvenile probation officer and youth counselor. "I know it (having programs) makes a difference."
He also said the reservation communities are in "bad need of infrastructure." Blackhair plans to rally his new committee members behind a move to put playgrounds, parks and similar things in reservation communities.
"Those are the major points that have been over looked by this council (in the past)," he said.
Blackhair plans to seek federal funding for programs that might combat the reservation's high juvenile delinquency and dropout rates.
"We are the original, aboriginal people (of this country)," he said. "And we will continue being here. We need to have pride in ourselves."
Raymond Murray, a cattleman, and Roseline Taveapont, an educator, are also ready to get on with the business of governing the tribe. All three believe it is a critical time for the tribe to be heard by both the state and federal government.
They know they have a lot of work to do before the end of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. They realize most critical is gaining the trust of all tribal members, not just those who voted for them.
"One thing we have to look at are those who didn't vote for us but are still part of this tribe," Tavea-pont said. Blackhair said all of the committee meetings (since the new officers took office) have been open, and anyone's allowed to ask questions. He and the others hope the openness might heal those hurt this summer.
Can the new Business Committee, which is now chaired by Ruby Atwine (Blackhair's mother), work together?
Murray said the new members are now the majority, and the old members, specifically Stewart Pike, will have to work with them. He hopes things will just "go back to normal so people can do their jobs."
Taveapont says she respects Pike's conviction and hopes to put their differences behind them.
Blackhair says, "I think only time can be the judge of Mr. Pike."
As for Pike, he attended his first meeting with the new council Thursday, Aug. 17. He left the three-hour meeting early.
Unlike his fellow committee members, he is a political veteran who's been in office for 15 years. He said he is disillusioned but not surprised by what's happened this summer.
"They've accused us of, well, pointed me out as a dictator, and the short while they've been in there, if anybody fits the title, they do," Pike said. He's worried that the accomplishments of the old council, which he says are numerous, will be wiped out by the new committee.
"We need to change the constitution of this tribe (to abolish the Business Committee)," Pike said, adding that there is already a movement under way to do just that.