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Southern Ute tribal members remember lifelong activist

Sage Remington fought for rights of Native Americans

Sage Remington, a passionate Native American activist who lived in Ignacio, died Tuesday, July 31, 2018. He was 76 years old.

Remington, a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, constantly fought against the status quo, even if it meant arguing with the tribe’s general council members.

“He was a visionary,” said his friend Arlene Millich. “He could see the things that were wrong and talk about it and not accept it by anyone.”

Millich and Remington had been friends since high school.

Remington left the area after high school to participate in Native American protests across the country. He marched with Cesar Chavez in support of migrant workers and with Harvey Milk for gay rights, according to an obituary published Wednesday in The Durango Herald. He also traveled to Denver to help Native Americans register to vote in the general election, Millich said.

When Remington returned to Ignacio, he became involved with efforts to improve the tribe, which sometimes resulted in contentious Tribal Council meetings, Millich said.

“When he came back to the reservation, he was the type of person that tells you what his beliefs were even if they were contrary to what the tribe was doing,” Millich said. “He wasn’t afraid to speak out. Sometimes people frown on that because they want us all to live peacefully together. Sage was not that type. If he saw that there was something wrong, he would say it.”

At the time, he also informed family and friends that he was gay. He co-founded the Colorado Two Spirit Society, a nonprofit organization that supports members of the Native American LGBT community.

“When he came back, he was pretty open about it,” Millich said. “And he didn’t care whether you accepted him or not. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Remington worked on numerous local and national boards in attempt to create a better way of life for Southern Ute tribal members, Millich said. He helped create the KSUT radio station in 1976, which provided tribal news and personal messages for those living on the reservation. In the 1990s, Remington joined the Southern Ute Grassroots Organization in an effort to halt the Animas-La Plata Project, which Congress had authorized in 1968 to provide water storage and water rights for Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

While fighting the project in the 1990s, Remington met current La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt. Since then, they had worked together on numerous local and regional issues.

“He was quite the defender of social justice, and if he was feeling like he was being looked down upon as a Native American, he would call you out on the carpet,” Lachelt said. “He played a huge role in so many different movements. He just had so much energy.”

In recent years, Remington became a Southern Ute elder and took great pride in his nieces and nephews, she said.

“That became just as important to him as anything he’d ever done,” Lachelt said.

Remington is survived by his sisters, Linda Eagle, Ramona Eagle and Annie Rabbit; and many nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great grandchildren and relatives throughout Ute County.

A funeral service was held Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, at the Southern Ute Memorial Chapel in Ignacio.


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