Some of the key players

by Jonathan Thompson

LEONARD BURCH, who died in 2004, is widely considered the Southern Utes’ most influential leader. He was elected tribal chairman in 1966 and served for 30 years, with just one three-year hiatus to comply with term limits.

SAM MAYNES, sometimes called the last real water buffalo in the West, was instrumental in getting two water projects realized (the Dolores and the Animas-La Plata). He was Burch’s right-hand man and close friend, serving as the tribe’s general counsel beginning in 1968. He died in 2005.

BOB ZAHRADNIK, once a geologist for Exxon, was hired by the tribe in the 1980s to help run its energy department. In the 1990s, he drew up the business plan for Red Willow. Now he runs the lucrative energy branch of the tribe’s Growth Fund.

JOHN JURRIUS says that when he got out of high school in Texas, he couldn’t point to a reservation on a map, and when he got out of college, he couldn’t spell sovereignty. Now he’s well-versed in both. The prime architect of the Southern Utes’ financial plan, he went on to help Utah’s Northern Utes start their own energy company (amid controversy), and now runs his own firm, Native American Resource Partners, which provides capital and expertise for tribes who want to take control of their energy resources.

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