A map of the Southern Ute Reservation and nearby reservations
The Southern Ute Indian Reservation is in southwestern Colorado near the northern New Mexico state line. Its territory consists of land from three counties; in descending order of surface area they are La Plata, Archuleta, and Montezuma Counties. The reservation has a land area of 1,058.785 sq mi (2,742.24 km²) and a population of 11,259 as of the 2000 census. Its largest communities are Ignacio and Arboles. The only other community that is recognized as a separate place by the Census Bureau is the CDP of Southern Ute, which lies just southeast of Ignacio.
Established in 1873, it is the reservation of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, a federally recognizedUte tribe. Government is organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and is led by a tribal council with a chairman as head of the executive. For decades at the end of the 20th century, Leonard C. Burch had been the tribes chairman. In 2008 a new chairman, Matthew Box was elected. There have been numerous council members, with some being elected to council many times, but they all serve one purpose, and that is to serve the tribal membership for their best interest. Leonard C. Burch was the most popular chairman to ever serve for the tribal population. When Matthew Box was elected he won in a runoff election against Clement J. Frost. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is currently the largest employer in the Four Corners, being a stupendous and competitive organization. With being on the top-ten list of wealthiest tribes in America, the Southern Utes also put their priority to their spiritual traditions as well as their compatibility towards the non-Indian people. They supply numerous non-Indians with employment that benefits themselves in many ways. By creating a "checkerboard reservation", the Southern Utes created a relationship with the non-Indians that they knew was imminent.