By Caspen Black

This Thursday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m., WCU will have the honor of hearing from the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Southern Ute Tribe. Garrett Briggs manages an average of 300+ ongoing consultation projects within his tribe’s ancestral territory, and has nearly a decade of experience working to protect and perpetuate indigenous heritage. The topic for this first installment in the Inclusive Ecology series is the history of the Ute people in Colorado, including attempted forced assimilation through the three federally-run boarding schools in our state. 

Briggs was previously the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation (NAGPRA) Coordinator for the Southern Ute Tribe and is the first Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Tribe, which formed their Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) in 2021. The Southern Ute Tribe and their sister Tribes – the (Northern) Ute Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe – are the original ecologists of this area and have taken care of the land since time immemorial. 

To access the talk virtually, go to: For more information on the forced assimilation of the Ute in Colorado, you can read this article from CPR News. For a brief chronology of the Ute Tribes in Colorado, you can check out the Southern Ute Tribe’s website.

This series is a semester-long series on Native perspectives in ecology and land history, put on by the MS Ecology program out of the Clark School of Environment and Sustainability in partnership with indigenous scholars. Corinne Ryan, the MS Ecology department’s current DEI coordinator, says her role is to develop “any actions we can take, events we can hold, that will expose ecology students as well as other students to diverse perspectives within the fields of conservation and ecology.” Top o’ the World looks forward to covering future events.