Comments about ‘Former judge sues Ute Tribe’

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Published: Tuesday, April 21 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Joe B,

It sounds like the Utes are on the war path again. Everything will settle down in the Basin for a few years and then something rears its head again. At least this time the tribe isn't trying to get the original three million acres back again.


I live out here in Ute indian country and one thing needs to be understood by all who think the Ute's have any semblance of a 'legal' system. They don't!

What they have is a system of cronyism that serves a small number of powerful indian family interests. Fact is, the Ute business committee is a power unto itself with absolutely no accountability to the Northern Ute Nation. It is virtually impossible for an individual indian to bring a case against the committee, leaving the committee a law unto itself.

Individual Ute indians have no representation under a body of law that recognizes their individual rights (rights they don't really possess). The whole thing is a fox run of a jury-rigged system that looks and has the trappings of a legal system but is anything but.

Sadly, given that the tribe has not individual land ownership (something the US government mandates), can have a business pulled out from under them, and have no individual representation seem absurdly similar to communism.

Sadly, many Ute indians have over the years told me this is what it is... living under communism. So much for the rule of law.


give it time things will calm down

these type of politics

are EVIL!!Plan and simple..then when one if of a different tribe such as the long time enemy Navajo then there is a reason for the termination as according to tradition... along with this goes the family tradition of weilding power and the ignorance there of...i lived in such a regeim growing up and it was often times a little hitler or leadership which constituted a dictatorship...people disapeared who disagreed...the set up like this gives too much power to the few and when results go against the status quo...well guess who has to go? It is really ignorant work who put up a fascade of good leadership and push their own agenda. when fair play is introduced they fear they will lose their evil way of control. I hope mr Yazzie holds his course and exposes these evil practices!


Sounds like Mr. Yazzie made the mistake of following the law and going against the Business Committee. He also found that the Business Committee and their attorney Mr. Fredericks efforts to sidetrack recall petitions against Business Committee members were unlawful. Unfortunately he is the most recent casualty of this Business Committee. I have lived here my entire life, and this Council is by far, the worste I have ever seen. Good luck to you Mr. Yazzie, I hope that you prevail but until our tribe truly establishes a seperation of powers, I fear you will be "BC'd", as the very people you are suing control the legal system. This is the same problem our membership has had for years! Mr. Groves was recalled over two years ago, the B.C. and their attorneys denied the peoples wishes and now he was unable to make it out of the primaries so he is finally gone. The same will happen to the other members of the BC come election time! Someone please help the Ute Tribe!


Hmmmm. With time and education will this sort of legal practice be eliminated? Only time and education, at least, is the answer, which I've learned from school. As a community, we have to believe in justice -- for it to become a reality. And sometimes the power monger takes control, and that is where danger and destructive lie. God help those that are suffering, and the believers.


I have lived in the Uinta Basin all my life.. i have watched as "business committee, after business
committe" come and go... i look around at the reservation.. thinking, when are they going to do something good for the people? thats who they represent... Look at the beautiful Bottlehollow
Plaza that most of it is being torn down... another
tribl project "hits the dust..." That place was so
beautiful.. i was proud when "Paul Harvey" and the
"Secretary of the Interior" came here to dedicate
Bottlehollow Plaza... I thought finally the Utes
is doing something. But it didn't last long.
Too bad for their people,, and the other comments are right... if you go against the tribal council
you are ousted out... they all make promises before
election, but onece their in, they are soon forgotten what the people want. This has been
happening for over fifty years.
Good Luck to you Mr. Yazzie!!! At least you have the
guts to stand up to these six council members, who
i feel never look out for anyones intrestes but
thier own.
I would love to see Ute Tribal members do the same
thing!! Look what hapened to Ron & Luke


I live here in the Uintah Basin and i have seen this
go on with the Ute Tribal Council time after time.
Election is coming up.. and i hear all the promises
that is made if the people will vote for that one or
this one, and as soon as they get in there everything falls on "deaf ears."
I'am glad to see Judge Yazzie stand up to them, they
have got to understand that they are not undespensible, that there is laws that everyone has
to live by, including them.
Too bad because Judge Yazzie was a good judge.
Good Luck Judge Yazzie, you have more supporters then you think you do. We will be watching to see
what becomes of this...in the meantime you need to let other tribes know of the injustices that exist
here on the Ute Reservation that is controlled by
six individuals.
Good Luck!!


interesting scenario, but not uncommon in Indian Country, contracted judicial officers is a way of maintaining the course of power, if you wish to continue employment always be conscious of the political agenda, on the flip side, if Mr. Yazzie entered the ruling in accord with the Ute Tribal laws, for whatever the outcome of his suit, he should walk away content knowning he was impartial and upheld the integrity of law.


Yeah, I love the law in Indian country. After working within or aroung Indian law since 2003, you see all sorts of odd cases, even from the Tribes themselves. And my fellow Native's, this is "soveriegnty" at its best, I believe His Honor will realize that the this case will drag on for a long time and may end up in the US Supreme Court. I used to believe that Tribal law was fun, I still do, but it is fun and "confusing" and will be watching this case.

G-Man from AZ

If you think things are bad on the Ute rez, take a look at what is happening on the Hopi reservation in Arizona. The Hopi Tribal Council, for purely political reasons, fired Chief Judge Gary LaRance, Hopi Appellate Court Judges Patricia Sekaquaptewa and Fred Lomayesva and Chief Prosecutor Dorma Sahneyah. They also removed Tribal Chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa. All these individuals are highly trained Hopis in the law. All, except Ben Nuvamsa, are law school graduates and members in good standing of the Arizona and California Bar Associations. The Hopi Council completely shut down the Hopi Appellate Court which had been exercising appellate court jurisdiction since 1972 and has handled hundreds of appeals and handed down just as many Legal Opinions on Hopi legal issues. The Hopi Council transferred appellate jurisdiction, and thereby its tribal sovereignty to the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals (SWITCA) in New Mexico. All in the name of politics! Now that goes way beyond firing one judge. These fired Hopi Judges have filed several lawsuits in the Hopi Trial Court. The Hopi Courts have not heard the cases. The cases are two years old with no resolution.

John Wrote

I to have lived on the Ute Reservation almost all my life and this the worst case of dictatorship a from a tribal council I have ever witnesse. Judge Yazzie was apointed by the Tribal Council what kind of a judge do they want? a crooked one whom will beckon to there unlawful call, as for the Tribal Attorney Mr. Fredrickson! What has he done for the tribe? to be paid over a million dollars for doing nothing last year I hear.

Bad times

I too hope that Judge Yazzie will prevail on this, he knew tradition & respected Ute culture. He knows Indian ways. Those prosecutors who say their Indian & Tribal Attorney's did not watch out for the tribe's jurisdiction nor the traditions, mainly because they were born & raised in the white world. There's nothing wrong with that, but they forgot or don't know traditions because it was never learned, Judge Yazzie knew all of that & respected it. Now, I understand the council is 'crying' around that theres no judge who unders the 'Indian way' of life. Hey,You had one! It's like they cut their noses off to spite their face. Judge Yazzie protected all who came before him. Election made no difference here,same ole ones are back with their still stupid ideas. They don't protect the tribe they protect their family. It does not say much for those who voted them back in. I'm glad alot of people support him, even though we would lose money its money well spent.


Yes, Judge Yazzie has the gut's to stand up for whats right for justice. He was releasd because he did not give into Curtis Cesspooch and his goonie's "Dictators" the membership are at the "Mercy" of this tribal council in place today whom got into office with lies and decite, promising big pay-out in tribal dividends. Larry Yazzie hang in there and do what you have to. Were tired of corrupt tribal council getting their way this administration is worst the Ute Indian Tribe have ever had. Besides Luke & Ron glad they didn't back into council.

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