The University of Utah and the Ute Indian Tribe signed a memorandum of understanding in Fort Duchesne Tuesday morning. The agreement allows the university to continue use of the Ute name for its sports teams, which it has done with support from the tribe since 1972.
As laid out in the memorandum, the Ute tribe has two goals in its relationship with the U: to build “respect and understanding of the Tribe’s history, culture and contributions to the state,” and to “have the University assist tribal members in helping their children lead healthy lives and be prepared to pursue a college education” through scholarship opportunities.
"We have had scholarships in the past, but we want to improve that where we'll be more in touch with the young Utes so that as they grow and mature, they can want to come to the university and be eligible," said Michele Mattsson, vice chair of the University of Utah Board of Trustees. "So we're going to work on that too, to actually expand the program for Utes as well as other Native Americans."
The tribe wants the Ute name to be used respectfully as a symbol for the school. Part of the agreement sets up an educational campaign to teach students and fans about the history of the tribe and how to behave in a way that doesn’t dishonor the Ute name.
Mattsson said the signing event was a way to honor the relationship between the two parties and share ideas on how to proceed with these plans in the future.
"I think really just honoring us by allowing us to use their name, to me that's a wonderful thing they're giving us," she said. "And I think the chance to have the relationship with them is a wonderful gift that they're giving to us."
The terms of the memorandum last for five years and will be reviewed annually.
The text of the memorandum can be viewed here.
-Eric Jungblut is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism at Utah State University.