The last two days of the journey were spent on the Southern Ute Reservation in Ignacio Colorado. It was a marked contrast to the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge reservations. Clearly, this is a prosperous tribe as evidenced by the homes and ranches that dot the landscape. The Utes have made investments that over the years have yielded significant income which is shared with tribal members as an annual stipend. The Sky Ute Casino, which sits on the reservation while profitable, does not support the tribe as many may think. In addition to the main casino floor the complex has a large entertainment complex, excellent restaurants and well appointed rooms.
The casino is situated in what serves as the governmental center for the tribe and across the street from the Southern Ute Museum. The museum is under the control of the tribe and contains an extensive collection of artifacts and multi-media and interactive exhibits detailing the life and history of the Southern Utes.
A tribal council member, Linda Baker, made a presentation about tribal regalia and shared several pieces of clothing that had beautiful, detailed beadwork. She was a former director of the museum and well versed in history and lifestyle of the Southern Utes. While eager to talk about the culture of the tribe, she was reluctant to get into any of the politics or finance issues.