Citing what it calls a pattern of discrimination and civil-rights abuses by local law enforcement, the Ute Indian Tribe on Friday announced a boycott of non-Indian-owned businesses in Roosevelt.
The move appears to reflect an escalation in tensions over a long-running jurisdictional feud now playing out in federal court.
The tribe contends peace officers with Uintah and Duchesne counties and various municipalities have no authority to stop or arrest tribal members for offenses occurring within the "exterior boundaries" of the original Uintah Valley and Uncompahgre reservations. This area includes Roosevelt, a town established in 1913, not long after this area was opened up for white homesteading.
The recent arrest of a tribal member appears to have triggered the Roosevelt boycott.
"This is just one of hundreds of reports that have come in over the years of unlawful police activity and racial profiling taking place against Tribal Members by Roosevelt Officers, and the Tribe isn't going to accept this anymore," the Utes' business committee wrote in a prepared statement.
A phone message left for Roosevelt Police Chief Rick Harrison was not immediately returned.
Ute officials also cited the city's refusal to enter into a cooperative law enforcement agreement with the state and Duchesne and Uintah counties as reason for the boycott.
The tribe is asking all members and non-Indian-owned firms doing business with the tribe to avoid patronizing Roosevelt businesses until progress is made toward resolving what tribal leaders see as "ongoing violations." The boycott does not target businesses that are in partnerships with the tribes, such as those developing oil and gas on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation.
The Ute tribal offices were closed on Friday, and officials were unavailable for comment. The tribe's lawyer in Denver was also unavailable for comment.
The Ute Indian Tribe resides on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. It has a membership of more than 3,000, with more than half living on the 1.3 million acres of trust land.