The Southern Ute Empire

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Over the past few decades, Colorado’s Southern Ute Indian Tribe has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse -- and not because of its casino. You see, it took control of the natural gas reserves beneath its reservation, which is south of Durango, bordering New Mexico. And these days, the tribe invests in a lot more than just energy development. Its net worth is well into the billions. The tribe may be a soveriegn government, but it’s also a corporate giant clouded in secrecy. Jonathan Thompson profiles the Southern Ute tribe in a recent cover story for High Country News called “The Ute Paradox."