Certain Ute Tribe leaders blast President Biden for Camp Hale national monument designation  | SummitDaily.com

Certain Ute Tribe leaders blast President Biden for Camp Hale national monument designation 

President Joe Biden signs a declaration creating the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument Wednesday at Camp Hale above Red Cliff. The monument is to honor the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who trained there to fight in Italy in World War II.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

A group of three bands of the Ute Tribe — the Whiteriver Band, the Uncompahgre Band and the Uintah Band — released a statement on Oct. 12 criticizing the designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, calling it an “unlawful act of genocide.” 

“Surrounded by forests, mountains and towns named after the Tribe and its leaders, President Biden met with other tribes from the area, but did not include the Ute Indian Tribe and its Uncompahgre Band who sustained these lands long before the founding of the United States,” the statement reads.

President Joe Biden visited the Western Slope on Wednesday to designate Camp Hale and parts of the Tenmile Range as a new national monument. During World War II, the 10th Mountain Division underwent training at Camp Hale. Soldiers also spent nights out in the freezing cold to prepare them for the harsh conditions that met them in the Italian Alps, where they fought and won battles. The training site was chosen specifically for its surrounding mountain terrain and wilderness. 

On Wednesday, Biden acknowledged Indigenous history in the area, specifically naming Ute members during his remarks on Wednesday, saying, “Tribal Nations have been stewards of this sacred land, hunting game, foraging for medicinal plants, and maintaining a deep, spiritual bond with the land itself. But by the 1800s, mining activity and federal government drove out Indigenous Tribes from their homes.” 

Members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe — which is headquartered in Ignacio and has ancestral ties to the Camp Hale area — were present at the signing of the presidential proclamation Wednesday. 

But the recent statement following the designation specifies that the Uncompahgre Band had their homelands within the monument area and were not formally consulted. They were forced off of that land in 1880 after an act of Congress forced them to move to the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northern Utah. In the statement, the group wrote that the administration made the designation without significant tribal consultation and that they did not know about the designation until just a few days before.

“In designating the Monument, the President and his Congressional supporters reverted to discredited federal policies of ‘chief making’ by attempting to pick and choose between tribes and tribal leaders,” the statement continues.

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