Mixed-Blood Utes petition for
repeal or completion of UPA
UINTAH BASIN STANDARD, August 5, 2008
Mixed-blood Uinta Utes who were terminated from federal recognition by the Ute Partition Act in 1954 are circulating petitions seeking to have the act repealed or completed.
The petitions call for the UPA to be repealed which would allow the original 490 terminated individuals and their descendants to be federally recognized again and reclaim their American Indian identity. If that cannot be done, the petitioners are seeking to have the UPA completed, resulting in the termination of the entire Ute Tribe from federal protection, said Oranna B. Felter.
Felter is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government that seeks to overturn the UPA. Felter was 10 years old when Congress "forced termination on her and her people." She said. OF the 490 terminated mixed-bloods, 260 were children who did not have a vote in the termination.
"There is no proof anywhere that the mixed-blood Uintas ever "voted' for their own termination." Felter said.
Felter said Curtis Cesspooch, chairman of the Ute Tribe Business Committee, choose not to support the repeal of the UPA at the National Congress of American Indians, held during the first part of June in Reno.
"All full-blood Ute tribal members need to blame your tribal council and not the terminated mixed-bloods," Felter said of the petition for completion of the UPA. "This could have been avoided. We will not be held hostage any longer to a congressional law that curtis Cesspooch and the council support."
Felter's group handed out petitions at a meeting during late June to everyone in attendance, and sent notices out of the date the petitions had to be returned for verification and recording. She said the target date was Monday Aug. 1, Felter said.
The petitions can be signed by any of the original 490 terminated mixed-blood Uintas still living. Heirs of terminated mixed-blood Uintas are also being asked to sign their ancestor's names to the petitions.
"We are asking Congress to restore the deceased to federal recognition so their heirs will be able to continue to inherit the rights of that person," Felter said, "We don't want the rights to die with our members, or to forget our ancestors who died with broken hearts and spirits because of an illegal termintion."
Felter said people who are not terminated mixed-bloods have also been signing special "support petitions" on the group's behalf.
"This means a lot to all of us," she said.
Anyone with questions about the petition can contact Felter at 435-722-3220 of by mail at P.O. Box 465, Fort Duchesne, UT 84026
Felter said there will be no further deadline extension for the petition. (The deadline was extended from Aug. 1 to Sept 1, which this article failed to report) A meeting will be held after the Sept. 1 deadline to discuss the outcome of the petition drive.