Ute Tribe boycotts businesses in Roosevelt City

- ROOSEVELT, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - The Ute Indian Tribe of the Unitah and Ouray Reservation said they instituted a boycott of the businesses in Roosevelt City on Friday in an attempt to stop discrimination against them.

In a statement released Friday, the Tribe said the boycott is an attempt to address the ongoing civil rights violations and racial profiling carried out by Roosevelt law enforcement officers and members of the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office.

Ute members said they don't feel welcome in some parts of Roosevelt City, which is why they are refusing to give their money to any non-affiliated Tribe business.

Uncompahgre Band member Eldora Perank said some people don't understand their way of life.

"They need to mind that we are different," she said. "We have different values and different cultures and traditions and we need to work together here on this reservation."

Perank said she has been treated very fairly by law enforcement officers and businesses, but knows several others who aren't so lucky.

Many Tribe members were weary to share their stories, but said they get pulled over by police officers for no reason or county deputies will disrespectfully patrol on Tribal land.

Roosevelt Police Chief Rick Harrison said he is not aware of any recent cases of racial profiling.

"I'm certain that every officer has biases somewhere or another," Harrison said. "That's human nature and we obviously work hard to make sure those don't creep into our policing activities."

He said his officers aim to treat everyone equally.

"If we are perceived to be doing any differently specifics would be great so we can attempt to change behavior if indeed there is something that needs to be corrected," he added.

A handful of local business owners fear the boycott will be bad for their bottom line even though they treat Tribe members like family.

"When we boycott business, we boycott our friends," Perank said.

Many members are already shopping only at Ute Tribal Plaza Supermarket, but Perank has many friends in Roosevelt who are not Tribe members and said she will support any shop.

"We just need to respect one another," she added.

The Ute Tribe said the boycott will remain in effect until progress is made between the Tribe and local law enforcement agencies in the area.

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