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Edward Bent Box, Red Ute, traditional spiritual leader of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, died Sept.18, 2012, at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., of natural causes. He was 92 years of age.
A member of the Moache-Capote Bands the Ute Nation, Mr. Box was the eighth child born to Jacob and Bertha Bent Box on April 1, 1920, in Bayfield, Colo. He attended the Allen Day School and the Albuquerque Indian School through grade 12.
In 1942, Mr. Box volunteered for service in the United States Navy in Denver, Colo. He served in the South Pacific during the Solomon Island Campaign in WWII as a Motor Machinist’s Mate 2/c. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
Mr. Box was employed at La Plata Motors in Durango, Colo., as a Ford mechanic after the war. He also was a deejay for KIUP in Durango, being the first radio announcer to broadcast in his native Ute language in the Four Corners Area. He will also be remembered for playing saxophone in an all-Indian jazz 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 (AISES).
One of his greatest passions of the past 60 years was traditional Indian flute-making. He loved to “make wood sing.” He was a member of the Indian Arts and Crafts Assn. (IACA), Southern Highland Craft Guild and the International Native American Flute Assn. (INAFA)
Red Ute (Mr. Box’s Indian name) began to follow the traditional spiritual path of the Ute People in 1952 by entering the Sundance Lodge on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation south of Towaoc, Colo. He danced there for four years before being asked in 1956 to lead the Southern Ute Sundance by the late Sundance Chief and Tribal Elder Edwin Cloud in Ignacio, Colo. Red Ute served his beloved Ute People for 42 years in this capacity before choosing his successor Neil Buck Cloud in 1994. As Red Ute was still living when Mr. Cloud retired, he appointed Kenneth Frost as his last successor in 2010.
Red Ute also served as chief of the annual Beardance 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.
Mr. Box is preceded in death by his parents, Jacob and Bertha Bent Box; siblings, Marjorie, Florence, Agnes, Ellen, Mary, Fritz, David and Clyde; first wife, Dorothy Burch Box; son James Lloyd Box Sr.; and adopted son and daughter, Gerald and Danielle Howe.
He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Diane C. Box, of Asheville, N.C., son; Edward Burch Box, aka “Eddie Box, Jr,” of Ignacio, Colo.; adopted son Jeffrey James Creeden of Asheville, N.C.; grandchildren, Edward Burch Box II, aka “Edward Box III,” Mathias Mountain Lion, aka “Matthew Box,” Melanie Seibel and James Lloyd Box Jr. of Ignacio, Colo., Coby, Shenandoah and Cheyenne Box of Dulce, N.M., and Jesse and Elaina Creeden of Asheville, N.C. He is survived by numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members.
As per Mr. Box’s wishes, cremation took place at sunrise on the fourth day after his passing in Asheville, N.C. In Mr. Box’s words, “I want to leave this world the same way I came into it — in a very humble way.” In respect for his last wishes, no funeral services were held in North Carolina. His ashes are to be scattered at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be sent to The Eddie Bent Box Memorial Fund c/o www.indiegogo.com.