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Ernest House Jr. Appointed Commission of Indian Affairs Head

Nathan Heffel
Tribal Chairs of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and new Indian Affairs Head Earnest House Jr. (third and fourth from left) listen to Tribal Chair Gary Hayes of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

The appointment of a new head of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs was  ratified Monday morning at the first meeting of the commission in the new year.  The approval of the appointment brings an end to earlier controversy.

The new head of the commission, Ernest House Jr. of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, held the post for five years before resigning last January. He fills the spot previously held by Carole Harvey, who was abruptly fired late last year by Colorado Lt. Governor and acting Executive Secretary  Chair of the commission Joe Garcia. Harvey has maintained she was wrongly discharged.

Garcia defended the decision to replace Harvey, stating a need to improve lines of communication between the state and its two tribal nations the Southern Utes and Ute Mountain Ute of southwest Colorado.

"We're just really pleased that Earnest House Jr. is rejoining us in this role. We think that he has such special connections to both and to serve as the great conduit and take messages both ways; and make sure we have a level of confidence and trust and openness between the state and the tribe."

In his first address as head of the commission, Earnest House Jr. vowed to work for every Native American from Northern Colorado, to Colorado Springs.

The commission serves as the body overseeing intergovernmental dealings among the state’s indigenous nations including the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

In a goal setting discussion at Monday’s meeting, the commission focused their attention to the most pressing issues facing state Native Americans including healthcare, education, and national sovereignty. 

Tribal leaders will meet later this week with Governor John Hickenlooper in advance of his State of The State address Thursday.



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