Ute storyteller to make presentation in Granby tonight | SkyHiNews.com

Ute storyteller to make presentation in Granby tonight

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

Photo by William Woody

Historian, storyteller and former tribal leader of the Ute tribe Roland McCook Sr. will speak as part of the Grand County Library District’s “Elevate Your Mind” series this evening.

Upon conducting research for a Hot Sulphur Springs history mural commissioned for the Grand County government building, Grand Lake sculptor Howard Neville received a call from McCook – a descendent of Chief Ouray and Chipeta. Chief Ouray was considered one of the Ute’s greatest leaders at a time when the white population forced Native Americans in the West to accept resettlement.

McCook has since supplied Neville valuable information, Neville said, about the Ute natives who once frequented the natural hot springs and lived off lands on the western half of Colorado.

As a member of the Uncompahgre band of the Northern Ute Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah, McCook’s involvement in Ute affairs has given voice to his heritage as he bridges mainstream American culture with that of his native culture.

He spent a career as a civil engineer and fire manager for the Bureau of Land Management, and later was employed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Most rewarding at present is his work returning sacred remains of tribal members to their native homes for reburial.

Serving on the Smithsonian Institution’s Native American Repatriation Review Committee, McCook had the privilege last winter of returning to the Dakota Sioux descendants of Sitting Bull a braid and a pair of leggings that belonged to the late chief. The items had been kept in a private collection – eventually displayed at the Smithsonian – since Sitting Bull’s death in 1890.

Fluent in Ute, McCook has extensive experience conducting historical and archival research on Ute tribal history. While in Grand County, the master historian plans to visit the hot springs in Hot Sulphur Springs as part of his stay. Acquaintances of McCook remember when not too long ago on a visit to Grand County, he blessed the springs in tribute to their historic importance among native tribes.

His is prepared to share impressions and stories of his life and tribal past as part of the Grand County Library District’s Community Speaker Series, which has set out to feature speakers and authors on subjects that have local, global, cultural, political, scientific and literary relevance to the Grand County population, according to the Library District. McCook is the second speaker in the series.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.