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About Us



1.1 History and Background

  • In 1976, the Colorado General Assembly created (C.R.S. §§ 24-44-101 to 24-44-108), within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA). The Lieutenant Governor serves in the statutory role as chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. The Commission was designed to be the official liaison between the two Ute Tribes and the State of Colorado. Legislators and tribal leaders envisioned a productive relationship between the state and tribal governments. Since its inception, the Commission has worked with the two Ute Indian Tribes in Colorado and the off-reservation American Indian people who live in Colorado.


Lieutenant Governor serves as chair of CCIA.

  • 11 members:

Lieutenant Governor;

Executive Directors of Department of Human Services, Public Health and Environment, Natural Resources, and Local Affairs;

Two official representatives each from Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes;

Two at-large members.

Other representatives from federal, state and county agencies serve as ex-officio members to provide advice and guidance on the agencies' federal, state and/or county obligations affecting American Indians. i. See Appendix 1 for list of CCIA Members.


  • Six Committees

Economic Opportunities and Resources

Budget and Personnel


Health and Wellness

Public Relations and Outreach



  • Quarterly Meetings

1st Quarter, September, Ignacio, Colorado (Southern Ute Indian Reservation)

2nd Quarter, December, Denver, Colorado

3rd Quarter, March, Denver, Colorado

4th Quarter, June, Towaoc, Colorado (Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation)


  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe
    The Southern Ute Indian Tribe lies to the south and east of Durango, Colorado. The tribal reservation is a checkerboard reservation with tribal member allotments as well as tribally owned land dating back into the early 19th century. The Tribe has 307,838 tribally owned acres. The Tribe has 1,408 enrolled members who reside both on and off the reservation. The tribal administration is located in the community of Ignacio, Colorado. The Tribe has a seven-member council including the Chairman.



Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council

Chairwoman Pearl Casias
Vice - Chairman James Michael (Mike) Olguin
Treasurer Romona Eagle



Council Members

Jim Newton
Marjorie Borst
Alex Cloud
Jocelyn Dutchie



  • Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
    The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe lies within the southwest corner of the State of Colorado. The Tribe has 575,000 contiguous acres, which span into the States of New Mexico and Utah. The Tribe has 2,060 enrolled members who reside both on and off the reservation. The tribal administration is located in the community of Towaoc, Colorado and the White Mesa community is located in Blanding, Utah. The Tribe has a seven-member council including the Chairman.



Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council

Chairman Gary Hayes
Vice-Chairman Bradley Hight
Treasurer Manual Heart



Council Members

David Wing
Harold Cuthair
Juanita Plentyholes
Elayne Atcitty (White Mesa)



  • Annual Tri-Ute Meetings

Meeting among the Southern Ute Indian, the Ute Mountain Ute, and the Northern Ute Indian Tribe of Utah Tribes. The three Tribes meet to discuss issues impacting each of the Tribes.


  • Urban Indian Population

The 2000 Census Data reports that 44,241 American Indian and Alaskan natives live in the State of Colorado, comprising 1.0 percent of the total population. This represents a 62.78 increase since the 1990 census and this increasing trend is expected to continue. The cities with the largest populations are Denver and Colorado Springs.

During World War II and the years immediately after the war, American Indians from rural areas, particularly from reservations, moved to cities in search of better opportunities. Selected as one of the initial destination cities for the relocation and employment assistance programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Denver became a hub for American Indian migrants. Although the federal government hoped to assimilate Indian relocatees by distancing them from reservation communities, the Denver American Indians created an urban Indian community to support themselves and showed little interest in losing their tribal or Indian identities.

With Denver’s central location between the desert tribes of the southwest and the plains tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, the metropolitan area has become home to more than 20,000 American Indians. These descendents of the Cheyenne, Lakota, Kiowa, Navajo, and at least a dozen tribal nations are an integral part of the city’s social and economic life. Despite their diversity, they are a tight-knit group, sharing the same strong commitment to family and cultural survival.


  • Hub of Indian Country

In the far-flung expanse of Indian country, Denver emerged as the informal capital. Denver has the nation's largest concentration of national Indian groups, about 15 associations ranging from the leading Indian law firm to the leading scholarship fund. Propelling Denver to center stage have been the city's neutrality in tribal affairs and its centrality in transportation. Denver is a seven-hour drive from Colorado's only reservations, the two Ute homelands in the State's far southwest corner.

"In the urban Indian political world, Denver is the primary city," Kevin Gover, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said from Washington. Gover, an Oklahoma Pawnee who most recently lived in New Mexico, observed, "If we need a location where we are not favoring one group over another, Denver is neutral ground."

“With many roads in Indian America leading to Denver, it would be the ideal location for a permanent Indian convention and cultural center,” says Danny G. Abbott, chief executive officer of the Native Power Corp., an energy consulting company here. "Denver is the natural spot," he said. "If you are going from Billings to Albuquerque, you are going to stop in Denver."


  • CCIA Mandated Responsibilities

1. CCIA Enabling Statute, C.R.S. 24-44-101 et seq.
Statutory duties are set forth at C.R.S. 24-44-103:
(1) It is the duty of the commission:
(a) To coordinate intergovernmental dealings between tribal governments and this state;
(b) To investigate the needs of Indians of this state and to provide technical assistance in the preparation of plans for the alleviation of such needs;
(c) To cooperate with and secure the assistance of the local, state, and federal governments or any agencies thereof in formulating and coordinating programs regarding Indian affairs adopted or planned by the federal government so that the full benefit of such programs will accrue to the Indians of this state;
(d) To review all proposed or pending legislation and amendments to existing legislation affecting Indians in this state;
(e) To study the existing status of recognition of all Indian groups, tribes, and communities presently existing in this state;
(f) To employ and fix the compensation of an executive secretary of the commission, who shall carry out the responsibilities of the commission;
(g) To petition the general assembly for funds to effectively administer the commission's affairs and to expend funds in compliance with state regulations;
(h) To accept and receive gifts, funds, grants, bequests, and devices for use in furthering the purposes of the commission;
(i) To contract with public or private bodies to provide services and facilities for promoting the welfare of the Indian people;
(j) To make legislative recommendations;
(k) To make and publish reports of findings and recommendations.


  • CCIA Informal Mandates

Committed to work on a government-to-government basis with each tribal government.
Maintain direct contact with Colorado Tribes and urban Indian communities.
Assure face-to-face contact in the Tribe’s Reservation communities and at State Capitol.

1.2 Opportunities

1. To continue fulfilling its legal obligations to the two Colorado Tribes and Colorado’s American Indian citizens
2. To impact state policy on Indian Affairs.
3. To build upon and strengthen its sovereign relations with the two state tribes.
4. To leverage federal grant monies to enhance opportunities for Colorado American Indian citizens by collaborating with Colorado Indian Tribes and urban organizations to secure funding that will benefit Colorado’s American Indian citizens. The importance of this one item cannot be overstated. The U.S. Health and Human Services Administration for Native Americans (“ANA”) awards $43 Million annually in grants. CCIA recommended to the two Colorado Tribes that they retain specialists in this area to avoid missing opportunities for grants.

1.3 Suggested Strategic SMART Goals


  • Education Committee
    • Goal 1: Improve educational academic performance by building bridges and alliances between the Tribes, urban Indians and Public School Districts and educational community to foster one goal – the goal of giving every child the opportunity to learn in an environment that fosters learning.
  • Health and Wellness Committee
    • Goal 1: To improve the health and wellness of American Indians and their communities in the State of Colorado by continuing alliances between tribal, urban Indian community, state and local governments, and the health community in meeting their health and wellness needs.
  • Economic Opportunities and Resources Committee
    • Goal 1: To promote economic development, while preserving tribal sovereignty, cultural resources and values.
  • Public Relations and Outreach Committee
    • Goal 1: To engage in promotional activities that work to create a strong public image of CCIA.
  • Reinterment Committee
    • Goal 1: Continue strong performance of compliance with the State Process for Consultation, Transfer, and Reburial of Culturally Unidentifiable Native American Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects Originating from Inadvertent Discoveries on Colorado State and Private Lands and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.