For Immediate Release
March 12, 2007
“Ute Tribal Council Abandons Tribal Sovereignty"
"By Siding with the State of Utah Against a Uinta Band Member.”
(Roosevelt, Utah) - A terminated member of the Uinta Band of Utes, Oranna B. Felter, commented on the position taken by the Ute Tribe in a State of Utah prosecution of Rick Reber, a descendant of the Uinta Band. Felter, one of the lead plaintiffs in Felter, et al. v. Kempthorne, et al., a major federal case seeking to eradicate the Ute Partition and Termination Act (“UPA”). The UPA was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1954 to “terminate” the individual identities of Indians of various Tribes through out the United States. The federal policy of termination has been abandon except as applied to the terminated “Mixed-Blood” members of the Uinta Band of Utes, they are still fighting in the Courts!
In order to help the State of Utah convict Mr. Reber allegedly hunting without a license, the Ute Tribal Council willingly took the side of the State prosecutor that conceded that the Tribe did not exercise jurisdiction over the land where Reber and his son killed a trophy buck in 2002. In condemnation of the approach adopted by Ute Indian Tribal Council, Felter stated that is “using” the Reber case to continue the UPA, one of the worst ‘genocidal laws” ever enacted by our own U.S. Congress in 1954 against its own Citizens!”
Rick Reber was convicted in the State of Utah District Court of helping his teen age son take a trophy buck in 2002 without a hunting license. The case evolved from a simple hunting without a license charge into one of major importance turning on legal questions over who, the Ute Tribe or the State of Utah, has ownership of the lands where the incident happened. Rick Reber argues that he didn’t need to purchase a hunting license because he truly believed that he and his son had a right to hunt on the lands because he is a descendent of the Uinta Band. Under his position, his Uinta Band decadency would give him a right to hunt under an 1864 Treaty. Approx. 4,000,000 acres of lands falls under tribal and fed. Jurisdiction.
The Utah Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that Reber was hunting on land that “fell under the Jurisdiction of the Ute Indian Tribe” and his conviction was dismissed. However, the State of Utah successfully petitioned the “Supreme Court of Utah” for a hearing contending that the “taking of the deer was a victimless crime” by a non-Indian on land that does not belong to the “Ute Tribe.”
The Ute Indian Tribe filed a legal brief before the Utah Supreme Court that “sided with the State against Reber, a Uinta Band Member”. At hearing, State of Utah Attorney Chuck Kaiser told the panel of Supreme Court Judges that “the authority The Tribe has is limited to the lands the tribe has in trust.” He further stated that the Tribe doesn’t claim to have jurisdiction over everything in “Indian Country”.
By openly taking sides with the State of Utah against Reber, the Ute Tribe undercuts a favorable 1985 decision issued by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc¹ that held that the entire Uinta & Ouray Reservation remains under exclusive Tribal and Federal Jurisdiction. Clearly, the Ute Tribe has willingly handed away established 10th Circuit legal precedent that will allow the State of Utah to further undermine the Tribe’s jurisdiction and authority over lands described in the 1861 Treaty. “THE UINTA BAND OF UTES IS THE ONLY BAND THAT HOLDS TREATY RIGHTS TO THE LANDS OCCUPIED BY THE UTE TRIBE IN UTAH!! THE “UTE TRIBE” WAS CREATED IN 1937 AND, BEFORE TERMINATION, CONSISTED OF THE ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS, THE UINTA BAND, AND TWO OTHER BANDS, THE WHITERIVER AND UNCOMPAGRE, WHO ARE ORIGINALLY FROM COLORADO”.
Reber’s Attorney called the “disclaimer” of land ownership by the State and Ute Tribe “bizarre”. Key to Reber’s argument before the Utah Supreme Court is the existence of the 1985 10th Circuit Court decision that established the Ute Tribe as the rightful owner of the land where the deer was killed.² “ The Ute Indian Tribal Council has no legal right or jurisdiction to hand over sovereignty to anyone when that sovereignty belongs to the Uinta Band”. Everyone knows that the State of Utah wants to own every square inch of the Uinta Valley Reservation and exercise its state authority over all aspects of the Uinta & Ouray Reservation. With the help of the Ute Indian Tribal Council, the State of Utah will eventually end up owning “all” the Uinta Valley Reservation and gaining total control over the lands, hunting and fishing within “Indian Country”.
BY “SADDLING UP” WITH THE STATE OF UTAH AGAINST RICK REBER, THE UTE TRIBAL COUNCIL, SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF THE UTE PEOPLE, HAS ABANDONED ITS OWN SOVEREIGNTY AND ESTABLISHED JURISDICTION IN ORDER TO SPITE THE TERMINATED MIXED BLOOD UINTAS WHO ARE BRAVELY FIGHTING IN THE FEDERAL COURTS TO ERADICATE THE UPA!
“ANY TRIBE THAT “SUPPORTS A TERMINATION ACT IS CREATING A BAD EXAMPLE AND LEGAL PRECEDENT THAT “ENDANGERS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF ALL TRIBES IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA!”
By taking a stand against Reber, a Uinta Band member, along side the State of Utah, the Ute Tribal Council condones the existence of the UPA, an Act of the U.S. Congress intended to destroy the Uinta Band of Utes. The Ute Tribe now endorses “termination”. “ It wants to see termination continue to exist on the law books.” So long as the UPA remains as an active act of genocide, all Native American People must beware that the U.S. Congress can raise the threat of termination at anytime!! YOU COULD BE NEXT!
The Terminated Mixed Blood Uinta Band Members of the State of Utah believe that all Indians and Tribes in the United States and Canada must know the truth behind what has happened in the Reber case that started with an Indian killing a deer.
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