Cuthair serves as the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s planning and development director, transportation specialist, economic development specialist and community service division director in Towaoc. She said she leads where female leadership is far and few in between. Yet at the end of the day, she said her most important role is being a mother and a grandmother to her two sons and four grandchildren.
“I'm challenged by how [I can] be the best I can each day. I think some of the things that have helped me as a traditional Ute woman are our continuation of honoring our creator every morning and throughout the day,” she said.
Cuthair was born in Cortez, Colorado where she said racism is a continuous battle, and "an ongoing issue much like housing, water, infrastructure and many other things."
Raised on the Ute Mountain Reservation, Cuthair has been an advocate of her growing community since 1962. According to the Colorado Health Foundation, Cuthair has been key in securing more than $108 million in new funding and 800 new jobs over the past decade. And this is not the first time Cuthair has been recognized for her community work. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy named her the Indian Energy Champion.
After winning the health leadership award in 2022, Cuthair believes her ties to her tribe and community are only going to grow stronger.
“I see the needs directly,” she said of her community. “And I believe that in my heart and in my work that I do, it's very important that we honor the people that have come before us. Anywhere we put our foot on this earth, we have to be mindful of that and respect that.”
Bean Yazzie is a multimedia journalist with Rocky Mountain PBS and can be reached at email@example.com.