Utes join in Capitol Christmas Tree celebrations
In May, members of the U.S. Forest Service made a presentation to the three Ute Tribal Councils to advise them of plans to harvest the Capitol Christmas Tree on the White River National Forest on Ute aboriginal lands, and to invite the tribes to join in the associated celebrations.
Since then, tribal elders and students have been busy creating ornaments for the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree. Colleen Black and Fabian Jenks, Northern Ute tribal members, are among those who made ornaments for the tree: “It has been fun to make this for the tree,” said Black. “Elders have fun talking and visiting with each other while they make the ornaments.”
At Eagleview Elementary School, Loya Arrum’s Ute language students sang “Old MacDonald” in Ute as they painted and decorated their ornaments.
Together, tribal members from all three Ute Tribes have made and donated hundreds of ornaments to decorate the Capitol Christmas Tree.
A spokesperson for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe offered these thoughts when asked what the Capitol Christmas Tree means to the Ute Tribes: “The Tree is on Ute aboriginal land, and land that was used by other migrating tribes. It is a sentinel — a landmark in the forest. It has provided medicine, food, wood for fire and shelter. The tree has stood proudly for the Ute people and their life ways.”
Traditional cultural leaders Clifford Duncan (White River Band, Ute Tribe), Terry Knight (Weenuche Band, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe) and Alden Naranjo (Capote Band, Southern Ute) will be present to honor the tree at its cutting. They will also honor a second companion tree which will travel with the Capitol Christmas Tree and be given to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Tribal Council members and elders from the three tribes will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in receptions at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the U.S. Forest Service and to observe the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.
“We are honored that the tribes have chosen to participate so fully in the Capitol Christmas Tree celebration,” said Blanco District Ranger Ken Coffin.