Native Presence Grows on Colorado College Boards

Ernest House Jr., Ute Mountain Ute, executive director of Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, is now on the Board of Trustees of Fort Lewis College

Ernest House Jr., Ute Mountain Ute, executive secretary of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, has been named to the Board of Trustees of Fort Lewis College, a former Indian boarding school in Durango, Colorado, commission board members were told March 22.

His is the third current Native appointment to a college board in Colorado. Others include Karen Wilde, Muscogee (Creek)/Pawnee, a National Park Service cultural liaison, who also serves on the Fort Lewis College board and is a former commission executive secretary. The third is Dee St. Cyr, Winnebago, a member of the board of trustees of the University of Northern Colorado, who is also chairwoman of the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce.

House was also awarded the “Forty under 40” honor for contribution to the community at a presentation March 22 by the Denver Business Journal.

Fort Lewis College is in southwestern Colorado near House’s home on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation where his father, the late Ernest House Sr., was tribal chairman for many years and where his great grandfather, Chief Jack House, was the last traditional leader of the tribe.

After it was closed as a boarding school, FLC continued its role in Indian education under a federal/state agreement that provides tuition waivers for American Indian/Alaskan Natives from more than 100 tribes. The Native students comprise about a quarter of the student body.

Among other achievements, House played a key role with the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado) in developing a national model for implementing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act on state and private lands.

The four-year term on the seven-member FLC board of trustees is a governor’s appointment ratified by the state senate.