Tribe Disappointed That City Won't Participate In Talks
The Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee (Tribe) is disappointed with the recent decision of the City of Roosevelt to not participate in a series of Cooperative Agreements that would address jurisdictional and law enforcement issues on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation (Reservation), located in Eastern Utah. The Tribe had previously executed a series of three Cooperative Agreements in 1998 with the State of Utah and Uintah and Duchesne Counties that had addressed law enforcement and jurisdictional issues at the conclusion of protracted Hagen litigation over the boundaries of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The agreements clarified when and how law enforcement officers could act in the jurisdiction of another, and set forth a process by which the Counties agreed to disclaim criminal jurisdiction over Tribal members arrested for misdemeanor offenses on certain lands within the Reservation in exchange for the Tribe’s agreement to disclaim civil regulatory jurisdiction over non-Tribal members on some lands within the Uintah Valley portion of the Reservation owned by non-Indians.
The Ute Tribe had previously sent a letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert and the county commissions for Uintah and Duchesne counties notifying them that the Tribe was exercising its right to terminate the 1998 Disclaimer of Civil/Regulatory Authority, due to the absence of the City of Roosevelt as a signatory party to the Agreements, amongst other reasons. “The majority of the misdemeanor arrests of Tribal members that take place on the fee lands within the Reservation occur within the city of Roosevelt; if the City is not a party to the Agreement, there is really very little benefit to the Ute Indian Tribe in exchange for the civil regulatory jurisdiction that the Tribe is giving up” stated Irene C. Cuch, Chairwoman of the Tribal Business Committee. “The Ute Tribe was hopeful that the City would be willing to enter into these Agreements for the mutual benefit of our Tribal and non-Tribal communities, and the Ute Tribe is very disappointed with their decision” stated Ms. Cuch.
The Tribe’s letter states that the termination was effective as of Friday, July 8, 2011. The letter also clarifies that the Tribe’s Business Committee decided to terminate the Disclaimer “due to increasing concerns over the health, safety and welfare of the Ute Indian Tribe and its members and the environmental impacts of certain industrial and commercial activity on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.” The letter states that upon termination of the Disclaimer, “the Ute Indian Tribe will seek to fully enforce its jurisdictional authority to the maximum extent permitted by Federal and Tribal law everywhere on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and will further evaluate all ongoing activities on the Reservation that the Tribe has previously disclaimed tribal regulatory jurisdiction and control over.”
“The decision of the Tribe to terminate the Disclaimer Agreement has been prompted by the increased level of oil and gas development on the Reservation and the adverse environmental impacts of such development, which have come to have an effect on Tribal members health, welfare and safety” said Stewart Pike, Uncompahgre Representative on the Business Committee. “The Business Committee has decided to take a more proactive role in regard to the enforcement and regulation of non-Indian activities on the Reservation to address these impacts.” Pike said. “
Roosevelt has taken a position that it will not give up its jurisdiction over Tribal Members within its area of jurisdiction, and the Business Committee has chosen to do the same with respect to non-Indians on the Reservation” Pike said. “In a recent meeting with the Roosevelt City Council and members of the Business Committee, the Roosevelt City Mayor, Vaughn Ryan stated that “the City Council has decided it wants jurisdiction to remain the same” and that the City wants to have the same status as other off-Reservation communities such as Vernal and Heber. “Roosevelt City has failed to acknowledge that it is not in the same position as these other communities, given the fact that they are located within the boundaries of the Ute Indian Tribe, a sovereign Nation” said Pike.
The Tribe had not taken action to sign the revised agreements that have been submitted to them by Duchesne County, because the County had incorporated a number of additional changes to the Agreements without any further negotiations or consultation with the Tribe. “It’s sad that it’s the people on both sides that are burdened by the consequences of the unfair attempt of the Counties to create uneven terms of the Agreement for their benefit.” Pike stated.
About the Ute Indian Tribe-The Ute Indian Tribe resides on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. Three bands of Utes comprise the Ute Indian Tribe: the Whiteriver Band, the Uncompahgre Band and the Uintah Band. The Tribe has a membership of more than three thousand individuals, with over half living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The Ute Indian Tribe operates its own tribal government and oversees approximately 1.3 million acres of trust land which contains significant oil and gas deposits. The Tribal Business Committee is the governing council of the Tribe.
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