Longtime spiritual leader and Southern Ute Tribal Council member Edward Bent Box Sr., died Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Asheville, N.C. He was 92.
A member of the Moache-Capote Bands of the Ute Nation, Mr. Box was born April 1, 1920, the eighth of nine children born to Jacob and Bertha Bent Box, in Bayfield. He attended the Allen Day School and the Albuquerque Indian School through the 12th grade.
In 1941, he married Dorothy Burch in Aztec. After 33 years of marriage, she preceded him in death in 1974.
In 1942, during World War II, Mr. Box enlisted in the Navy. He served as a motor machinist’s mate second class in the South Pacific during the Solomon Island Campaign. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
Mr. Box worked at La Plata Motors in Durango as a Ford mechanic after the war. He also was a disk jockey for KIUP (AM-930) and was the first radio announcer to broadcast in his native Ute language in the Four Corners.
His family said people also will remember him for playing saxophone in an all-Native American band known as “The Pine River Boys.”
Mr. Box served 16 years on the Southern Ute Tribal Council. He also served on the Committee of Elders for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
One of his greatest passions of the last 60 years was traditional Indian flute-making. He loved to “make wood sing,” his family said. Mr. Box was a member of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, Southern Highland Craft Guild and the International Native American Flute Association.
Known as “Red Ute,” his Native American name, he began to follow the traditional spiritual path of the Ute People in 1952 by entering the Sun Dance Lodge on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in Towaoc. He danced there annually for four years before being asked in 1956 to lead the Southern Ute Sun Dance by the late Sun Dance Chief and Tribal Elder Edwin Cloud in Ignacio. Mr. Box served the Ute People for 42 years in this capacity before choosing his successor, Neil Buck Cloud, in 1994. As Mr. Box was still living when Mr. Cloud retired, he appointed Kenneth Frost as his final successor in 2010.
Mr. Box also served as chief of the annual Bear Dance Ceremonial for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for 38 years. Upon his retirement, he appointed the late Gerald Howe and Rudley Weaver as his successors in 1999.
In 1990, he married Diane Colbath in Durango. The couple moved to Asheville in 2000.
In addition to his first wife, Mr. Box also was preceded in death by his son James Lloyd Box Sr.; and grandson Jimmy Paul.
He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Diane C. Box of Asheville; son Edward Burch Box, also known as “Eddie Box Jr.,” of Ignacio; adopted son Jeffrey James Creeden of Asheville; 10 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members.
According to his wishes, cremation took place at sunrise on the fourth day after his death. He once said, “I want to leave this world the same way I came into it – in a very humble way.” His ashes will be scattered at a later date.
A memorial celebration of life will be held at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort Events Center.