Way out West: Ute elder speaks of tribe’s creation story in Paonia
September 19, 2012
Ute elder tells of tribal religion
Steamboat Springs — Northern Ute elder Roland McCook, who spoke to about 100 people at the Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs in August 2008, told an audience in Paonia on Sept. 13 that his people eschew science and are unafraid to die.
Steamboat Today reported in 2008 that McCook helped start the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in 1995, encouraged students of Ute descent to go to Colorado Mountain College, started a skiing program with Billy Kidd for Ute children and ran a leg for the Olympic Torch preceding the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
In 2008, McCook said that rather than dwell on the poor quality of the land his tribe had been given at its reservation in Utah, he preferred to talk about the Northern Utes' tribal traditions.
“My heart could be angry. I could stand here and give you a different idea and tell you how I really feel. But what would be the point of doing that? I would rather come here and educate you,” McCook told Steamboat Today four years ago.
In Paonia this week, McCook, 71, told his audience that his people are content to die because there is a better life afterward, according to a blog post in the High Country News by Neil LaRubbio. The tribal elder spoke about his peoples' creation story.
"Our people shun and don't believe in science," he said. "Our belief is that we came from the Rocky Mountains. We shun archaeologists and geologists."
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To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com