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Monday, December 16, 2019
Banishment from Uintah and Ouray Reservation goes to Federal Court
CREDIT NATE HEGYI / MOUNTAIN WEST NEWS BUREAU
Four women from the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in northeastern Utah have turned to the federal court system after they were banished by Ute tribal leadership last year. We've posted on the Mixed Blood Uintahs Fight for recognition here
Angelita Chegup said the banishment forced her into an early retirement from her position as a grant coordinator for the Ute Indian Tribe. She lost her health and life insurance. Now, unless Chegup has a police escort, she can’t attend traditional ceremonies on reservation lands or visit friends and family. She says she’s missed funerals.
“Our families died,” she says. “I’ve had a few die and couldn’t attend their funerals because of what the council decided.”
The conflict began after the women intervened in two major lawsuits pertaining to the tribe, using the opportunities to assert what they saw as their sovereignty and their right to have a voice at the table. The women argue they have 19th century treaty rights to the Uintah Valley, an oil-rich part of the reservation.
“We’ve been bringing this issue out,” Chegup said. “‘We all need to know our history here.”
That history is at the core of this dispute. Chegup says she’s from the Uintah band of Indians of Utah and that they’ve lived in the valley since time immemorial. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed an executive order granting the band ownership over the land there.