Fri September 23, 2011

Longtime Ute Tribal Chair to be Remembered in Colorado

Memorial services begin later today in commemoration of the life of former  Ute Mountain Ute Chairman Ernest House Senior.  The 65-year-old died last weekend in a motorcycle accident near his home in the Four Corners region. 

Ernest House Senior was a long time chairman and council member for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, a small reservation on the Colorado and New Mexico sides of the Four Corners sandwiched between two national monuments and home to many lands considered sacred to native people. 

Colorado’s Lieutenant Governor, Joe Garcia, who worked alongside House on the state’s Commission of Indian Affairs, says his legacy will be lasting in and outside of Indian country.

"He really was an advocate not just for his tribe but for all native peoples," Garcia said. "He was really focused on advancement in the areas of health, education and addressing issues like Indian mascot names at colleges and in sports teams and he also served his country more broadly in the national guard, not just the native community."

Carol Harvey, a Navajo tribal member and executive secretary of the Colorado Indian Affairs Commission, says Ernest House Senior will also be remembered as a humble leader.

"He never wanted people to call him Chairman House, he didn’t want to be called Chairman, he saw himself as a servant of the people and a member of his tribe," Harvey said.  "He wanted his children of the tribe to be proud that they were Utes and be proud that they were Native Americans."   

Ernest House Senior was also formally honored this week by the New Mexico state legislature.  A traditional wake is scheduled for today with funeral services to follow tomorrow on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation. House will be buried next to his grandfather, Jack House, the last traditional chief of the tribe.