Tribal Consultation Can Be Difficult: Camp Hale Monument and the White River and Uncompahgre Utes




Since Tribes have different histories with different pieces of land, which are the “right” Tribes to consult? And why didn’t the White House know this and take the time to consult? Of course, the Camp Hale Monument designation is an attempt to side-step Congress (we don’t actually know what part of the Monument was endangered by whom, so how important it was to “protect”?) there were probably partisan political motives and this being October, perhaps those motives were time-sensitive. Generally there’s no ticking clock for FS or BLM (or as I’ve said, why not NPS and Wildife Refuges?) Still… if the White House can’t do it right, what hope have the BLM and the Forest Service?

Here’s a story from the

However, one Ute tribe is not happy about the new designation. The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah issued a press release late Wednesday saying they were only consulted a few days before the signing ceremony, were not included in the years-long and ongoing legislative discussions about the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act that preceded the designation, and will fight it, perhaps in court.

The Ute Indian Tribe’s Uncompahgre Band considers the Camp Hale area part of its traditional homeland by right and by law.

“We’ve tried to work with this Administration, but time after time they refuse to address the real issues tribes are facing,” Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee Chairman and Uncompahgre Band representative Shaun Chapoose said in the release. “Even on our traditional homelands, they refused to work closely with us. These new monuments are an abomination and demonstrate manifest disregard and disrespect of the Ute Indian Tribe’s treaty rights and sovereign status as a federally recognized Indian Tribe. If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they will get.”
But the Colorado Times Recorder had an interesting political take on this.. perhaps “some Tribes are more equal than others.”

Chapoose says the White River and Uncompahgre Bands of the Ute Nation were forced out of Colorado, but tribes that are still in the state – such as the Ute Mountain Utes and the Southern Utes — naturally support their state government when it comes to protecting Camp Hale.

“It works for them because they’re residents of Colorado, right?” Chapoose said. “So, politically, it’s in their best interest to be on the right side of the politics there. If somebody would pull out the actual map of Colorado, you will see who was the bands of the Ute that were in that area [Camp Hale]. And you’re going to see it wasn’t no Southern Ute or Ute Mountain Utes. It was the Uncompahgres and the White Rivers.”

The Ute Indian Tribe is a stakeholder in the proposed Uinta Basin Railway, an 85-mile connector between oil fields in the Uinta Basin that would cross tribal land. Bennet, Hickenlooper and Neguse have expressed their support for an Eagle County lawsuit challenging federal approvals for that railway, which would connect to the mainline and send up to 10 oil trains a day through western Eagle County and along the Colorado River.

“OK, so they don’t like the fact that I’m trying to have a rail to take oil and gas from my reservation to a market to generate revenue so I can provide services for my people,” Chapoose said. “They don’t like that, but at the same time, they forget, if I wasn’t removed from where I was to begin with [in Colorado], I wouldn’t be doing this anyway. So people need to remember, I didn’t choose to be removed. They made that choice for me.”

The manager of Eagle County, where Camp Hale is located, has said the oil train plan would exacerbate climate change, endanger the Colorado River and increase pressure to reopen the Tennessee Pass Line along the Eagle River and adjacent to Camp Hale.

Two of the three Eagle County commissioners on hand for Wednesday’s signing ceremony said they were not sure what impact a national monument designation would have on efforts to reopen the Tennessee Pass Line through Eagle County between Dotsero and Pueblo.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, on hand for Wednesday’s ceremony, previously declined to discuss calls for the federal government to derail the Uinta Basin oil trains. Bennet told the Colorado Times Recorder he hoped they would.

Yes,  it’s the same Senator Bennet as the Tribal Co-Management letter. Yes, the Uinta Basin oil trains that the Ute want. Sigh, what does consultation mean again?

I also thought this was interesting..

In a phone interview with the Colorado Times Recorder, Chapoose said the difference is that Utah Republicans consulted his tribe prior to federal action on Bears Ears, which was cut in size by 85% by the Trump administration after being designated by the Obama administration. Biden returned it to its original size, and then some, but Utah is now suing the administration.


16 thoughts on “Tribal Consultation Can Be Difficult: Camp Hale Monument and the White River and Uncompahgre Utes”

  1. I was thinking about this the other day; Tribal Consultation is more like a badge the FS presents and wears quite proudly. To consult, we consult on a predetermined action, and are not really interested in what Nations have to say. That is the impression I have, right, or wrong, and here’s why.

    Arizona experiences were much different for me; honest, reverent, equal, etc. I gained soooo much in my interactions with (I believe it was nine Tribes and two Chapters) our Tribal Liaisons and CRAC’s. Then, I/we/you learn about Arizona Snowbowl, and you say – huh? Oklahoma Consultation and celebrations were a bit like Arizona, but more project specific. We were managing resources and lands, beneficial to all concerned.

    Camp Hale was a knee-jerk “takings”, brought about as another vote pandering action, more than anything else. I rode Hale three weeks ago, talked to the Special Uses permit holder and just chit chatted with other users. I questioned the need to “protect” Hale, but from what? The only answers I could carve out of all the irate hate I received on a Facebook post was for litter! Litter? I never saw a piece of trash, beer can or anything else.

    It makes no sense to me……. The Utes are trying to tell us but we just ain’t listening.

  2. It’s been obvious to anyone paying attention since the current movement for tribal co-management began that the only tribes Democrats actually care about are those willing to be political puppets for leftwing environmental groups in furthering their “rewilding” agenda. Those tribes who actually want to use land productively for things like energy production have no use to them so their perspective doesn’t matter.

  3. So, the Biden White House should have remanded this ground to which tribal community? It looks like Republicans are more bent out of shape by protecting this parcel from development than Colorado tribal communities are.

    • No. It’s Democrats who claim to support the “land back” movement, not Republicans. Republicans just want federal lands managed for the benefit of the American people including recreation and productive uses like grazing, logging, and energy development. We certainly don’t support giving federal lands over to the exclusive benefit of a tiny ethnic minority solely because their ancestors happened to live in the general vicinity.

      The Camp Hale fiasco is however an excellent opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of Democrats who claim to support tribal management of federal lands but only ever listen to the tribes who happen to agree with their prior agenda.

    • “Protecting from development”; please enlighten me on how this land could ever be developed into anything? There are two choices; either the historical footprint of the Army Camp will be undone through “ecological restoration”, or the ecological restoration ain’t gonna happen. They will not “compliment” each other!

      I see many visitors, even foreign visitors, stop and give pause for what this Camp resented in helping win WW II. Many, many prayers have been said on that stretch of US 24, it’s a shame politics got involved in the first place….

  4. In 2019 during an episode of The Keepers, a podcast produced by the Kitchen Sisters and NPR, the lead Archivist at the National Archives told listeners lawyers are combing the records for treaties with tribal nations none of which have been honored by the United States.

    Despite the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862 that distributed unceded lands in the public domain to raise funds for colleges. The Morrill Land-Grant Acts are directly linked to the Native American Genocide and Colorado State University is just one of those offenders.

    In 1980 attorney Mario Gonzalez filed the federal court case stopping payment of the Black Hills Claim award to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Gonzalez contends that the commission charged to make peace with tribes inserted language into the Fort Laramie Treaty signed in 1868 that Red Cloud had neither seen nor agreed to in negotiations. After the defeat of the 7th Cavalry at Greasy Grass in 1876 and the Great Sioux War Congress abrogated that treaty in 1877 and the Utes, Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne and others who migrated, lived and hunted all along the Front Range were driven into concentration camps.

    • Larry, I’ve been trying to understand the mechanism here.. who doesn’t own land “linked to Native American genocide”? Why single out the land grants for this? It seems a bit odd to me that the schools intended for poorer people, designed to do practical things (and still do, Gaia bless them!), have been singled out as uniquely bad. I wonder if there are classist overtones to this (liberal arts, good; agriculture, bad). And land grant institutions today include Native American HBCUs and Hispanic colleges. .

      • Since the Park Service will manage the monument negotiations between Interior and tribal communities are virtually seamless. Badlands National Park and the Oglala Lakota Nation share management. Here in New Mexico Interior and the Cochiti Pueblo share management at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Valles Caldera National Preserve is headed in that direction, too.

        Herr Trump’s erasure of protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was cruel retribution targeting Indigenous peoples.

        • I guess it depends on where.. e.g. Utes and Mesa Verde.
          “Veronica Cuthair is the tribal park’s longtime director. Her family has been involved since the beginning. All along, the relationship between the tribal park and national park has wavered between contentious — with issues of crossover grazing, hunting and timber cutting — and nonexistent.

          Today, “we don’t have nothing in any way,” Cuthair says of the relationship. “I think that could be improved.”

          Then again, she says: “I think it’s probably best this way. You can’t change the government.”

          • Today, land repatriation is part of the roadmap to reconciliation and that Republican welfare ranchers are angry about rewilding means it’s the right thing to do.

            David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He wrote in The Atlantic that he believes that most land held in America’s national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it’s my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.

        • Larry, you might want to get your basic facts right. The Camp Hale monument is managed by the Forest Service. Grand Staircase is managed by the BLM. Bears Ears is jointly managed between the BLM and Forest Service. The NPS has nothing to do with any of these monuments.

              • Yes, they will have to do both a management plan and a travel management plan. And here I had hoped we would be done with travel management in CO for a while now that the final decision came out for PSI last month. Fortunately there aren’t that many 4×4 trails in the new monument, and those all went through travel planning in 2012. Hopefully those will all stay open, but it seems the FS always feels like it has to close at least some roads every time it does travel planning, so we’ll see.

                • Patrick, that’s my concern; the trail system (motorized) is in pretty good shape on Hale, I hope they don’t “see fit” to close down access. That is one of my biggest concerns. That, and tearing out the valley, and it’s remaining 10th Mountain footprint.

                  I think the Monument Plan must be completed within two years of designation, I’m sure White River is sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, just waiting on something else to work on….. Do-gooders will come out of the woodwork to lend a hand….. I talked to one of the outfitters before this was designated and relayed my concerns. He asked if I trusted the government to keep its word on existing uses? I laughed so hard I almost passed out!


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