As former Executive Director for the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) for over 11 years, Ernest maintained the communication between the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe, and other American Indian organizations, state agencies and affiliated groups. In that position, Ernest worked closely with Governor Hickenlooper, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, and the CCIA members to maintain a government-to-government relationship between the State of Colorado and tribal governments. The CCIA is a twenty-six member commission, chaired by the Lt. Governor Lynne and comprised of both Ute Tribes, their appointees and several state and federal department representatives and ex-officio members. Ernest represented the State of Colorado and the CCIA at various federal and state public policy meetings and provided legislative and government-related information to community stakeholders. Currently, as Senior Policy Director for the Keystone Policy Center, Ernest is working with various stakeholders in the areas of tribal consultation, energy, healthcare, and education.
Ernest is an enrolled member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in Towaoc, Colorado. He previously held the position of Executive Director under Governor Bill Owens and Governor Bill Ritter from 2005-2010. Ernest is a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow, 2013 Denver Business Journal Forty under 40 awardee, 2015 President’s Award recipient from History Colorado, and 2018 Gates Family Foundation Public Leadership Fellow. Ernest currently serves on the Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees and advisor to the Mesa Verde Foundation and Global Livingston Institute. He holds a rich tradition in his position as son of the late Ernest House, Sr., a long time tribal leader for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and great-grandson of Chief Jack House, the last hereditary chief of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.