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

University of Utah president, top Ute official agree on efforts to help young tribal members.

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Pershing said she’s right, that when he first became president, "I thought we might move further away from that," he said. "But this agreement is not about the drum and feather; this is about the name of the tribe, of our teams."

Howell said the school’s use of the Ute name is very popular on the reservation. Children wear the Utah jerseys in youth football and seniors have U. license plates, he said.

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American Indians are the U.’s smallest ethnic group. Just 171 of 31,520 U. students identified as American Indians in the 2012-13 school year.

More than 40 years ago, the U.’s athletics teams were often referred to using a slang for Native Americans that some consider derogatory. In one vulgar example, a 1963 football media guide cover depicts a horseback band of football players firing arrows at a traveling stage coach.

In 1972, the U. reached an agreement with the Ute Tribe to instead adopt the nickname "Runnin’ Utes," but through the mid-1980s the U. continued to have a "Crimson Warrior" ride onto the field at football games and drive a spear into a hay bale.

In 2005, the NCAA attempted to restrict the U.’s use of the Utes nickname, but the school appealed on the grounds that the name was appropriate, given that it had a good relationship with the tribe. The NCAA agreed.

The U. has opted more frequently in recent years for the "Block U" symbol over the drum and feather — or as the university calls it, the "circle and feather."

View the MOU at admin.utah.edu/ute-mou.

Tribune reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this story.


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