1:00pm

Fri March 23, 2012
State Capitol

Tribal Flags Installed at Colorado Capitol

Colorado’s two federally recognized Indian tribes now have permanent flags on display in the state capitol.  

Governor John Hickenlooper joined tribal council leaders from the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes for the ceremony Thursday,  saying it’s a symbolic step toward improving a government-to-government relationship.

In a short speech, the Governor called on the state to do more to work with the two tribes on economic development and other issues.  Both are now one of the largest employers in the Four Corners region; casinos and a ramp up in energy development have been key in boosting the economy in one of the state’s traditionally poorest areas. 

Bradley Height, vice chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, said the tribes are important economic engines for southwest Colorado.

"We’re doing a lot of things that are good," Height said. "We’re moving along, so with our flags being represented here in the state capitol, it shows that they respect us, we’re well represented."

Ute Mountain Ute Tribal councilman Manual Heart also made the 7 hour drive up to Denver for the ceremony – which he called historic.

"Today we heard thunder come from the southwest from the two tribes that are recognized in the state of Colorado – Ute Mountain and Southern Ute," Heart said. "So in the halls of the capitol of Denver there was thunder from the two tribes and it was a really good feeling."

Heart wishes the flags could have been installed sooner.  But he says the state of Colorado has come a long way, noting its first territorial Governor prominently called for the eradication of Native Americans from this part of the country in the late 1800's.