MEEKER I The Rio Blanco County Historical Society had hoped to have a nice luncheon and conversation about their shared heritage with the Ute guests who came to the quarterly meeting on Sunday afternoon. But, they never dreamed it would be such a transparent and rich dialogue from both sides of the topic. The unity was tangible and heartfelt.
With close to 50 people in attendance who not only came from Meeker but also Rangely, Craig and Glenwood Springs, an open and informal and inspiring dialogue took place.
Adelbert Tavashuts, the original guest speaker, had a family emergency, so the vice president of the Uintah-Ouray Historical Society, Kerry Cesspooch, a descendant of Colorow, traveled to Meeker with another Ute friend, Justin, to be the spokesperson for her people.
Lynn Lockwood, who has been a friend to the Ute people on several projects for more than 10 years, helped facilitate the conversation.
As Cesspooch told about her mother (who has now passed) being a true leader and teacher in the Fort Duchesne area, she shared how she now feels the responsibility has been passed on to her to keep her culture alive. She easily shared stories with the engaged group about her people, and those in attendance shared their own stories how their families had been friends with the Ute Indians and had helped each other.
Everyone agreed we probably have lots more positive stories that could be shared and how it would benefit the children to have these written for future information.
Another idea emerged that it would be extremely meaningful to the Ute people if the citizens from Rio Blanco County would visit Fort Duchesne and learn the Ute culture through the events and dances they schedule throughout the year.
The most momentous idea that came from the conversation of how to collaborate our heritage was to organize a horseback ride from Meeker to Fort Duchesne. It would be three- to four-day historical journey and a time of remembrance for when the Utes exited the Shining Mountains and traveled to Utah.
It was a general consensus that the camaraderie and sharing of this kind of time together would be transforming. With deep emotion, Cesspooch said, “This concept feels not only humanly important but spiritually significant as well.”
Everyone left with more knowledge and understanding of each other and a hope to expand that knowledge in the future.