Cultural Preservation Department is excited to announce that the
Tribe was awarded the Administration for Native Americans (ANA)
Preservation and Maintenance grant, written with the assistance
of the Southern Ute Education Department. The grant was awarded
to the Tribe for a three-year period and includes three proposed
plans to help get our language preserved and in the homes of our
"ANA believes language revitalization and continuation are two
of the first steps taken in preserving and strengthening a community's
culture," according to their website. "Use of native language builds
identity and encourages communities to move toward social unity
"The project is called the UTE (Using Technology and Education)
Language Preservation Project, so I am hoping you will recognize
it as we promote it in the community," emphasized Cultural Department
Director Shelly Thompson. "Our late Chairman Leonard C. Burch is
quoted as saying, 'No people can maintain their identity without
a language, the vehicle of their thoughts, dreams and aspirations.
If we are to remain Ute, Nuuchiu, we must protect our language from
dying out, we must help it regain its rightful place in our lives
and in the hearts and minds of our people, especially our youth.'
The previous passage is taken from the preface in the Ute Dictionary,
we used this as our inspiration for writing the grant to preserve
"We only have 32 Ute speakers in the Tribe, and it is vital that
we get our language documented as soon as possible and get teachers
the support and education they need to teach the children [in a
way] that is structured," Thompson said. "It is also important to
get the parents involved in the Ute language to prevent it from
dying by providing them the education of the Ute language so they
can begin using our beautiful language at home with their children.
It is a start, and I am hoping this also brings the community together,
we all need each other, we are a Tribe."
In the grant, we proposed to complete three tasks that involve
the preservation of the Ute language using the elders, other Ute
speakers and the community. The three tasks are: 1) Create the Southwest
Indigenous Language Development Institute (SILDI); 2) Certify at
least of 15 Ute community members under SILDI; and 3) Create an
online audio and video dictionary with an app.
The Southwest Indigenous Language Development Institute will be
working in conjunction with Fort Lewis College and will provide
college credit courses on the Ute language classes associated with
Classes are open to Ute tribal members from the Southern Ute,
Ute Mountain and Ute Indian Tribes, descendants, community members
and Fort Lewis College students. Fort Lewis College offers tuition
free classes for Native Americans, so this will assist with costs.
The classes will be online to allow those who may not be in the
immediate area to attend. We are hoping to make the classes available
on the weekends. We will need community members to be a part of
the Mentor Circle which will be created to assist with SILDI to
ensure there is support for the students as well as keeping track
on the classes being offered. We are hoping SILDI will not end after
the end of the grant and will continue to serve as a way for our
language to continue into the future.
"Language is the backbone of a people's culture and traditions,"
explained LaTitia Taylor, Southern Ute Education Department Director.
"This grant will help sustain the Ute people's existence and viability
by reviving the language. Past and present Tribal Councils understand
this and have already set the groundwork with resolutions and the
establishment of the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy in which
the Ute Language is a corner stone. It is time that we all work
together and revive our language to its full capacity."
We will be recruiting students for the Certification Program under
SILDI at the beginning of the year. This will be a three-year, seven
semester program with some semesters having two classes. The certificate
received at the end of the program will provide documentation from
the Southern Ute Indian Tribe that you have completed the required
courses to be able to teach Ute on the Southern Ute Reservation.
This will assist tribal members to obtain employment with the Southern
Ute Indian Montessori Academy as Ute guides, the Ignacio School
District and the Cultural Preservation Department as educators.
You can also take these courses for personal interest in order to
learn the Ute language. The other two Ute tribes will be able to
use the certificate as they choose and can contact the Cultural
Preservation Department for more information.
The online audio and video Ute Dictionary with an app, will be
the longest project we will work on; we will work with the University
of Arizona to assist in the creation of the app to ensure it remains
the property of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. We will be working
with the elders and other Ute speakers to add to the existing official
Ute Dictionary. We will also need artists for artwork to be a part
of the Ute Dictionary and the app, so it will belong to the Tribe
in various ways. We will have an Art Contest for the cover of the
Ute Dictionary. When these materials are completed, they will be
given to every Tribal household so they can use in their homes.
"I am so excited to be able to be a part of the UTE Language Preservation
Project because language was a priority of mine when I became the
Cultural Preservation Director," stated Shelly Thompson.
There is an opportunity for a tribal member to assist with the
UTE Language Preservation Project as a contracted Media Technician.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) will be posted soon, so if you are
interested please watch out for this great opportunity to submit
your proposal when it is announced. There will be other part-time
positions that may become open in order to assist with this project
Elders and Ute speakers are encouraged to participate in all aspects
of the grant and if you are wanting to participate in any manner,
especially the Mentor Circle, participate in the recordings, or
adding to the Ute Dictionary, please contact Shelly Thompson, Cultural
Preservation Director at 970-563-2984 or LaTitia Taylor, Education
Director at 970-563-0237.
If you are interested in receiving a Certificate in Ute Language
from the Southwest Indigenous Language Development Institute, please
watch for the recruitment information that will come out in January,
Please be safe and remember to take care of each other and especially