Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
McEntee: U. needs to offer more aid to real Utes and other tribal members
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Once again, we are seeing a conflict between reverence and revenue, sanctity and symbol.

At issue is the University of Utah's use of a graphic artist's depiction of the Ute Tribe's drum-and-feather symbol on its football helmets, athletic uniforms and fan paraphernalia.

Tribal members consider the drum and feather sacred symbols — the drum the heartbeat of Mother Earth and its people, the feather representing daylight and darkness, summer and winter. Entwined, they are a message to the spirits above.

And, after years of use, the U.'s symbol — most recently known as the "circle and feather" — has again created a rift between the eastern Utah tribe and university officials over the rewards each expected when they agreed to work together.

Isn't this something that both sides should have been clear about at the time.? Didn't both have vested interests to ensure that each kept promises made?

As I understand it, the tribe expected its students would get scholarships and other aid; the U. insists there was no "commercial" agreement.

In many cases, there's a lot to be said about mutual trust. There's also a lot to be said about a contract, which wasn't drafted, according to Salt Lake Tribune reporter Lya Wodraska, who wrote about the controversy in Sunday's edition.

Such a deal would have put some cement on promises of educational opportunities for Ute students. It would have kept the U. out of a debate about whether it was keeping its promises and whether the school and the tribe understand each other sufficiently.

Then there's the "Block U" now being contemplated as a permanent emblem and, of course, of a fresh, fat stream of merchandising money.

Here's a potential solution: At present, there are about 300 American-Indian students — only a few of them Utes — on a campus with nearly 32,000 students. The U. should reassess its responsibility to offer higher education and attendant scholarships not only to more Utes but also to members of all tribes in Utah.

Given this latest of many controversies, it just makes sense.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter: @pegmcentee.

Article Tools

 Print Friendly
Photos
 
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.