March 26, 2016 A new PBS series will be released in April, come to the premier in Montrose, Colorado at the Montrose Pavilion on 1800 Pavilion Drive. Doors open at 5:00 and movie starts at 6:00.
Roland McCook, chairman of Native American Cultural Programs, can be seen in Episode 3.
Roland will be at this event as well as other Federal Agencies; BLM, Forest Service etc.
A person of substance Roland McCook
Roland McCook has a deep connection to the mountains and valleys of the San Juans.
"This is where I meditate, do my prayers and seek whatever guidance I can get," he explains.
"Our history is here. We, the Utes, were created here as long ago as the stories have been told."
McCook's most unique connection to Ouray is its namesake. He is the next likely
descendant of Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta.
One of 15 children born to full-blood Ute parents on the Uintah and Ouray reservation
in northeastern Utah, McCook is, both by inclination and life circumstances, a lineage-holder for traditional Ute ways. A well-educated man who easily straddles the two worlds of Ute and mainstream American culture, he traveled extensively in his role as vice-chairman of the Smithsonian Institution's Native American Repatriation Review Committee, returning Indian artifacts and human remains to native peoples of the Americas.
But more than any of these things, McCook can best be described as "Nuche," the name the Utes call themselves, which simply means, "A person of substance."
McCook recalls his childhood in a place called Desolation Canyon. "When my mother wanted to get me to come inside, she would say, 'Come in, or the white man's gonna getcha!'" He laughs. "I got curious what a white man would be-a person with white skin and a hairy face? I thought to myself, 'My horse and dog have a hairy face...' It preyed upon my mind somewhat."
There came a day when the white man did come, and took McCook away from his family, pet prairie dogs, and the canyon he knew so well, to the White Rocks boarding school, 130 miles away. Here he successfully resisted a systematic attempt to snuff the Ute culture out of his being.
But in spite of everything, McCook's father "believed in education,' or maybe, like Ouray, saw the writing on the wall and understood that the best way for his son to thrive was to help him to somehow "walk both sides.'
So, in 1961, he put Roland on an airplane and sent him off the University of California.
'A reservation boy in Berkeley?" McCooks laughs.
"Wow! I got educated real quick about that lifestyle, but did not adopt it."
His ensuing career spanned many years with the Bureau of Land Management, which frequently used him as a go-between when BLM projects encroached upon Indian lands. McCook, in turn, during his tenure as Northern Ute Tribal chairman, put to work his knowledge of the intricacies of tribal matters to wrestle back oil shale reserves on the Uintah and Ouray reservation which had been withdrawn by the Federal Department of Energy and the State of Utah.
"The hoops we had to jump through, to get it back," he sighs.
But McCook describes his work with the Smithsonian Institute as "the greatest thing I've done so far." One mission took him to South Dakota, where he returned to the Dakota Sioux a lock of hair and leggings belonging to Chief Sitting Bull, which had long been in the Smithsonian Institutes's possession.
All the traveling McCook did with with this important work has given him a newfound need for roots.
He moved to Montrose, Colorado, where the Ute Indian Museum is located and upon whose grounds Chipeta's body was interred, in 1924.
"I decided to come home,' he explains. "That's my connection. It feels right.'
As told to Samantha Tisdel Wright (included are corrections to the article from 2008)
Who is the NACP? NACP consists of native and non-native families that live in
Grand Junction, Crawford, Delta, Paonia, Aspen, Woodland Park, Hotchkiss, Montrose, Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride, that have
unified to help create Native American Cultural Programs 501 (C) 3.
Many of our current members have a strong
history of supporting indigenous people here and nationwide on a grassroots level
NACP is a natural evolution for those of us
still wanting to share our ongoing living history through cultural
NACP’s current chairperson is Roland McCook, bringing with him a strong
natural connection the land, that encompasses all these territories and more. As the next likely descendant of Chief Ouray and Chipeta, he has
committed his life to his people. He creates numerous educational opportunities
for all who called these places “home” today. We can understand our
common shared historical past through his oral traditions.
Under his direction with a handful of community
members he was able to bring to the area four powwows
held in Montrose at Friendship Hall from 2010-2013. As our driving force for
our members we are reminded by his ancestors that peace and harmony must exist
for all peoples.