Culture meeting focuses on tradition, language

Tribal elder Pearl Casias, addresses fellow tribal members at last week’s Culture Meeting. The meeting focused on the Culture Department and goals of preserving and teaching the Ute language.
Photo Credit: Kree Lopez | SU Culture Dept.



A group of tribal elders and tribal members came together on Thursday, April 6 at the Cultural Center to discuss the department’s goals to preserve the Ute language.

A main goal that came out of the meeting was creating a Tribal Elder Advisory Group, Culture Director, Edward Box III said.

“We want to outreach to elders to assist the Culture Department with the teaching of the language,” he said. “We need the help of the tribal elders so we can gain their knowledge of our traditional ways and the Ute language.”

Box said by combining the elders’ knowledge of the language and the use of technology the department hopes to better reach their target audience when it comes to teaching the language; the youth.

“The young ones are the ones we shooting for; they are more technology savvy … they’re all mobile and that’s how to move forward with teaching the language,” he said. “There are a lot of resources out there to assist us.”

The department also plans to reach out and assist the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy to assure that the preservation of culture and immersion of the language is a team effort.

“The Culture Department wants to see Ute being the first language learned and English being a second, like it used to be,” Box said.

Box acknowledged the amount of work so many people have already put in to preserving the language. He said all the different dictionaries, classes and course material developed are great, but he hopes to consolidate everyone’s hard work into one uniform tool to help teach the language more consistently.

He also said that after speaking with different elders at the meeting he knows that there are different dialects of the Ute language.

“I don’t want to eliminate the different dialects,” he said. “We want to bring one common way to teach the language with respect of the different dialects.”

Box said in his time as director he has learned that the Ute Mountain and Northern Ute tribes have the same concerns about the language.

“Hopefully we can come together down the line and work towards bringing all the tribes together,” he said.

But for now, the Culture Department’s main focus will be teaching the language here at home.

Nowsss the Department is working on setting up a meeting to start forming the Tribal Elders Advisory Group. A date and time for the meeting is still in the works.


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