Misinformation, innuendo, hearsay and gossip have destroyed marriages, relationships, families, communities, nations and potentially, the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum (SUCCM), a non-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status.
The Southern Ute Tribal Council has made the decision to discontinue financial support and declared that the SUCCM board of directors must submit to dissolution or “acquisition” of the 501(c)(3) status. The Tribal Council hears complaints from disgruntled board members, former employees and a handful of tribal members who believe they can do a better job even though they lack the educational expertise, knowledge and training in the museum field.
It’s not unusual for a tribal member to tell a non-tribal employee, that “I am going to get you fired” and then you find yourself asking, “What did I do to deserve this kind behavior?”
Problems arise when misinformed clandestine decisions are made that affect other institutions, the public and members of the Southern Ute tribe. Foremost is not providing a public forum for input to change a public museum to a tribal department and minimal dissemination of information to the 501(c)(3) involved, all due to the apparent lack of a transitional plan.
Second, not being allowed to inform and honor agreements made with the Ute People and other institutions regarding their private collections. Most concerning is the future environment of the sacred collection and proper training in protecting these items. In Ute tradition, there are gender specific, sacred artifacts that must be handled with great care and respect by qualified staff.
The future of the museum, collections and current staff are in jeopardy because of the decisions being made based on misinformation, hearsay, gossip and innuendo. Left unchecked it will be this misinformation, that adversely affects an integral part of Ute culture.
I was fortunate to hear a tribal elder speak of the past. People were poor and needed each other to survive. Today, people know how to hate. If you have visited the museum, please call the Southern Ute Tribe of your experience. We need your support.
Ronald Yellowbird, vice-chairmen of the board
Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum