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Ute dance to celebrate a good season

Joel Stonington
Utes will perform a series of dances and ceremonies to celebrate a good winter at 4 p.m. Saturday at the base of the gondola. (Courtesy Aspen Ute Foundation)
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Utes, the tribe that used to live in the Roaring Fork Valley, will perform a series of dances and ceremonies here today to celebrate a good winter.One of the elders of the northern Ute tribe, Loya Arrum, will perform some of the rituals involved in the ceremony, at 4 p.m. at the base of the gondola.

“We’ll burn tobacco, cedar as well,” said Aspen local James Quoetone, a Paiute/Kiowa who will take part in the ceremony. “That will lift our thankful prayers up to the great spirit, mother earth and mother nature, thanking them for a great season, a beautiful winter.”Quoetone has been working closely with Diane Kessler, the Aspen Ute Foundation director, to set up programs to help Utes return to Aspen. “The Ute Foundation is a nonprofit program developed so we can bring Utes back to ancestral lands,” Quoetone said. “This is where the Utes used to come in the summer. Aspen is rich in fishing, rich in hunting. They took care of it as well. During the mining days, the same thing happened with my people in Nevada. The mining pushed people away, into the four corners area, where they were put on reservations, taken off their land and taken away from their homes.”

Kessler has been in conversations with the Aspen Skiing Co. to see if jobs are available for Utes. “The ski company said they would facilitate the hiring of Native Americans to come work for them,” Kessler said. “The ski company said they would definitely give priority to a Native American who might apply. They are very receptive to the idea of offering more opportunities to Native Americans in the valley, helping them get out of the rez, live in the mountains and reconnect with their homeland.”

Kessler said she is hoping some of the younger people in the various Ute tribes would come out to Aspen to work for a winter and experience what is here. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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