SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah opened a new exhibit created by the Indigenous Student Association and Allies in celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

The exhibit is called “Celebrating Indigenous Culture.” Its aim is “to amplify Indigenous voices and highlight and celebrate the diverse and rich culture of Native American people,” according to the University of Utah Office of Equity, Diversion, & Inclusion. The exhibit displays are located on the first level of the library near the Café and the reception desk. 

According to the Utes Nickname Project, the University of Utah started identifying as “Utes” during the 1920s. In March 2020, the university signed the Memorandum of Understanding with one of three federally recognized Ute tribes. The memorandum is what allows the university to continue being identified as “Utes.” The last time the memorandum was signed was in 2014.

There are three federally recognized Ute tribes. The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah-Ouray Reservation in Northeast Utah is the tribe that gave permission to the university to identify as “Utes.” The other two tribes, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Southwest Colorado and the Ute Mountain Tribe in the four corners region are not mentioned in the memorandum as having given permission.

Other provisions of the memorandum include how the name “Ute” will be used within university promotions, who owns the trademark for the name, how the tribe licenses the university to use the name and how they benefit financially from that license. The memorandum also includes other agreements such as special programs and educational opportunities for students in the tribe and access to sporting events and team practices. 

“Celebrating Indigenous Culture” will run from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. For more information, visit the exhibit website here.

To learn more about the history of the University of Utah’s relationship with the name “Ute,” visit the Utes Nickname Project website, hosted by the U of U Department of Communication.

For the Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Utah and Northern Ute Tribe of the Uintah-Ouray Reservation, click here.