Ute Tribe, U. of U. reach new agreement over name

By Lya Wodraska and Matthew Piper, The Salt Lake Tribune

The University of Utah has reached a new agreement over its continued use of the Ute name and drum and feather logo for athletics teams, a university source tells The Tribune.

A memorandum of understanding that outlines collaborative efforts to encourage more Ute students to attend the school is expected to be signed by U. President David Pershing and Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee chairman Gordon Howell 11 a.m. Tuesday in Fort Duchesne. The university will not pay to use the name.

The Ute Tribal Business Committee sent a letter to the University of Utah late last year, requesting a meeting with the school. Attached to the letter was a resolution stating support for the school’s use of the Ute name and drum and feather logo, but also hopes to negotiate tuition waivers instead of scholarships for Ute Indian Tribe students.

The resolution further called for the creation of a special adviser to Pershing on American Indian Affairs, and to appoint a member of the Ute Indian Tribe in this role.

The current memorandum of understanding was established in 2005. U. Vice President Fred Esplin told The Tribune in November that the school and the tribe had been involved in ongoing discussions about the 2005 agreement, which was not immediately available to The Tribune late Monday.

Tuesday’s scheduled signing comes amid objections from within the U.’s own ranks over the school’s handling of diversity. Last week, assistant vice president for student equity and diversity Enrique Alemán resigned in part, he said, because he was accused of leaking the letter the U. received from the Ute Tribe.

Days earlier, chief diversity officer Octavio Villalpando resigned. Alemán said he was told Villalpando was being investigated for human resources issues.

A U. student group in December petitioned the school to drop ties with the tribe altogether, rather than continue to react to evolving notions of political correctness.

Even if handled delicately by the U., the teams’ association with American Indians leads to a problem of “education,” said Samantha Eldridge, a leader of the initiative and now a liaison for Native American Outreach in the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. Fans of the team must be told it is inappropriate to wear mock headdresses or paint their faces red at games.

“We are always going to get a negative, stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans,” Eldridge said Monday night. “We’re always going to get a new cohort of students attending the university who we are going to continually have to educate on what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.”

Created By Students: Play the First Shoshone Language Video Game

 A screenshot from "Enee," a student created Shoshone language video game.

A screenshot from “Enee,” a student created Shoshone language video game.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

When given an assignment to use modern technology to teach the Shoshone language and culture in an entertaining way, students from the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program, or SYLAP, at the University of Utah came up with a computer game called “Enee.”

Enee in Shoshone means “scary, fearful, frightening, oh!” and it’s a fitting title for the dark and edgy aesthetics of the game play, which according to a university press release were inspired by filmmaker Tim Burton.

The game is based on traditional Shoshone stories. The game’s main character, Enee, lives in the past and is thrown into some of those stories.

“Working with Shoshone youth on this project has shown me that games can do more than just entertain,” said Zeph Fagergren, master’s student in the university’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, in a release.  “‘Enee’ is more than a game, it is a tool to help people keep their culture alive and well. Using the video game format makes it possible for to anyone to learn the Shoshone culture and language.”

Playing the game does require basic understanding of Shoshone because there is no English used in the game.

“I think it is great we can incorporate our traditional culture with modern technology,” said Cora Burchett, a student in SYLAP and one of the three game developers.  “‘Enee’ carries on traditions that my grandparents taught me, and I believe that is very important to my future.”

The development team wanted to bring some of the traditional Shoshone stories to the modern world because they aren’t being shared like they used to be.

“‘Enee’ demonstrates that the Shoshone language and culture has a place in the modern world,” said Marianna Di Paolo, director of the Shoshoni Language Project and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Utah. “Developing ‘Enee’ was a great example of the goals of the language project: to open the doors to higher education for young Shoshone people and also help them see they don’t have to give up on their language and culture to do so. In fact, just the opposite is true.”

To play the game, which continues to be tested and developed, visit TheEneeGame.com.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/10/10/created-students-play-first-shoshone-language-video-game-151567