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Ute Games kick off this week in Towaoc after pandemic hiatus

The Southern Ute Tribe's team for the 2022 Ute Games.
Virgil Morgan
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The Southern Ute Tribe's team for the 2022 Ute Games.

The Ute Mountain Ute tribe is hosting the 2022 Ute Games this week in Southwest Colorado. The annual youth athletic competition is returning after a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young athletes from the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes are participating this year. In the past, the event was called the Tri-Ute Games and also included competitors from the Northern Ute tribe. However, the Northern Utes opted out this year due to challenges with travel and from COVID-19.

Virgil Morgan, the recreation manager at the Southern Ute Community Center, says the games are an important way for young Utes to bond across tribes.

It provides that competitiveness. The youth can get to know one another. And so it makes things easier. You already know each other. So you can go into competing and trusting one another building relationships.”

Kia Whiteskunk, the recreation director for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, agrees. “The purpose of the games was to come together so that our children would get to know one another and foster friendships between the tribes.”

About 60 participants will compete this week in Towaoc, on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation. Events are lined up from Monday through Wednesday, and include co-ed volleyball, a traditional Native American guessing game called handgame, and an obstacle course called the Ute Warrior Challenge. Members of the public wishing to attend must wear a mask indoors.

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Clark Adomaitis