It turned out to be tempest in a teepee. Two months after Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia removed Carol Harvey as executive secretary of the Colorado Commission or Indian Affairs, which his office oversees, Ernest House Jr. has been ratified as the new executive secretary.
And he hit the ground running: He's held the job before.
Unlike Harvey, an attorney who's from the Navajo Nation and has threatened legal action because of her ousting, House is from one of Colorado's two native tribes. He's the son of Ernest House Sr., who spent thirty years in Ute Mountain Ute tribal leadership and died last September after a motorcycle accident outside of Cortez. And he's the great-grandson of Chief Jack House, the last hereditary chief of the Weeminuche Band.
House had held the commission job for five years before leaving in January 2010 for a spot at the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.
"We're just really pleased that Ernest House Jr. is rejoining us in this role," said Garcia in re-introducing House at the commission's January 9 meeting. "We think that he has such special connections to both and to serve as the great conduit and take messages both ways; and make sure we have a level of confidence and trust and openness between the state and the tribe."
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Here's the rest release on the reappointment from the Lieutenant Governor's office:
House brings extensive experience to the position having served as the Executive Secretary for CCIA during the previous administration. Most recently, House was the Director of Government Affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He is actively involved as a board member with several cultural and educational organizations including the Tesoro Cultural Center (2009-Present), the Colorado Indian Education Foundation (2009-Present) and Governor Hickenlooper's Education Leadership Council (2011-Present). He was recently named a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow.
CCIA serves as the coordinating body for intergovernmental dealings between tribal governments and the state, and maintains open lines of communication for addressing tribal needs and priorities. CCIA is an 11 member commission, comprised of Southern Ute Tribal Chair Jimmy Newton, Jr., Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chair Gary Hayes, their appointees and several state department representatives. There are also eight non-voting members. CCIA was created in 1976 to deal with State/Native American issues in Colorado. The Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes are sovereign governments within Colorado's boundaries.
For more information on Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, visit www.colorado.gov/ltgovernor.
Colorado's biggest recent Indian controversy centers on a person who may not even be Native American: Ward Churchill. Last June, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear attorney David Lane's three arguments for why the former University of Colorado prof should be reinstated. Click to read "Ward Churchill case heading to Colorado Supreme Court: Not about 9/11, attorney says."