Southern Utes accuse Durango of secret efforts to annex tribal lands, following CORA requests

By Southern Ute Indian Tribe | The Southern Ute Drum

It was over 140 years ago that Felix Brunot, Chairman of the Board of Indian Commissioners, made promises and assurances to the Utes about protecting tribal interests while secretly hiding his intentions to turn over 3.7 million acres of land reserved to the Utes in the Treaty of 1868 to mining interests. Despite evidence of his wrongdoing, Congress approved the agreement he reached in 1874, resulting in the loss of Ute land to state jurisdiction. 

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has often faced attacks on its jurisdiction since that time in an effort by non-tribal members to undermine the Tribe’s sovereignty and economically benefit non-Natives. Few of those have been as brazen as that of Brunot. However, this year the Tribe experienced another attack with the actions of the City of Durango (City) in attempting to annex Reservation land, which Tribal Council swiftly addressed. 

The City of Durango has tried to distance itself from any wrongdoing with respect to the attempted annexation. On April 22, the City staff, at a special meeting, made a presentation of what they described as the background of the annexation process to the public. It was less than forthcoming and City staff emphatically asserted they had adequately consulted with the Tribe. We believe it is important for everyone to know exactly what City employees were doing to secretly annex Reservation lands since they have chosen not to honestly disclose it themselves.