Ute tribes meet with CSU officials on education for tribal youth | SummitDaily.com

Ute tribes meet with CSU officials on education for tribal youth

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) ” Leaders of the two Ute Indian tribes from southwestern Colorado have been meeting with Colorado State University officials to begin exploring ways to increase college enrollment among tribal members.

“We want to branch out within the (higher education) system so we can become a more learned people,” said Travis Blackbird, academic adviser for the Southern Ute department of higher education.

He and other officials from the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes arrived in Fort Collins on Thursday to talk to university officials about expanding college opportunities for tribal members.

Blackbird said higher natural gas prices and other economic opportunities are opening new possibilities for tribal members.

“We need to grasp how to best utilize those opportunities,” he said. “Instead of letting other people work for us, we would work for ourselves.”

Gary Hayes, executive secretary and council member for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, said tribal leaders are working to teach young members about the importance of higher education to quality of life. He said he would like to see CSU offer a summer program for tribal youth to teach them about what the university has to offer.

“If they can get this education, this experience, they can make it anywhere,” Hayes said.

CSU President Larry Penley, who met with the tribal leaders on Friday, said officials have identified several areas where the university and tribes can work together: increasing college enrollment among tribal members, offering continuing-education opportunities on the reservations and possible mutual research in renewable energy.

“I think something good can come out of this,” Penley said.

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