I was saddened to read the Herald’s article about SUCAP’s funding cuts (“Southern Ute Indian Tribe cuts funding to social services nonprofit,” Aug. 16). SUCAP is one of the original war-on-poverty programs started during the LBJ administration. It was an experiment whereby communities were afforded access to capital so as to improve the prospects of poor folks.
Visionaries like Chairman Birch of the Southern Ute Tribe, Peg Johnston, Donna Young and Eugene Naranjo collaborated to leverage funds set aside for American Indians to serve a broader population. Ignacio came to be know as a “tri ethnic community” and SUCAP was a model for collaboration, community and service. When I worked there, my go-to stress reliever was to hang out with the Head Start kids. Seeing Head Start preschool kids playing together would soften my perspective on things. The kids didn’t care who’s Indian or Latina or white. They just wanted to play.
When Harry Pearson (a local rancher) was the board president, he used to tell me, “It’s easier to take a truck apart than it is to keep one running.” He was a wise man.