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Know the West

Mute on Utes


Like writer Jonathan Thompson, I have deep roots on and near Ute lands in southwestern Colorado. While I realize he faced a daunting task -- even without Ute secrecy -- "The Ute Paradox" seemed way too couched in political correctness and an unwillingness to hold minority leaders to the same standards we demand of others (HCN, 7/19/10).

Had true standards of journalism been applied, for example, the report  would have mentioned that Ute tribal leaders met behind closed doors with representatives of then in-town Mercy Medical Center. The decision was mostly finalized to move the only hospital miles outside of Durango, never mind the lack of public input or the impacts on the elderly or the injured and sick on snowy Durango days. The associated planned 2,200-unit community almost certainly ensures massive urban sprawl and a population explosion into one of the last pristine segments of already appallingly sprawled La Plata County, with little discussion as to whether there will be sufficient water. Nor does the story reflect environmental values that I know many traditional Utes still embrace.

From water development -- including the environmental and energy boondoggle, the Animas-La Plata project -- to energy, the tribe’s astounding impact on the socio-economic climate of southwest Colorado deserved article input from local citizens, as did the issue of white business and legal leaders who have grown rich at the Ute trough in the area’s own version of Beltway Bandits, often at the expense of democracy.

Kathleene Parker
Rio Rancho, New Mexico