The 19thUto-Aztecan Shoshonean-Numic reunion started off with a sunrise prayer and greetings over breakfast in the Sky Ute Casino Resort’s event center, Monday, July 23. The conference had many exciting cultural workshops such as: Ute Proud, a horse workshop, powwow yoga, a cradleboard workshop, and Ute history. Participants from visiting tribes socialized with each other while sharing laughter, and telling stories.
“It’s important to know who you are and know your culture, because not a lot of you young ones know who you are, or where you come from. I would like to see younger people join culture, but all they ask in return is, do I get paid for it?,” said Larry Cesspooch of the Ute Tribe, during the Ute History workshop.
The Ute Proud workshop led by Martha Macomber, Liaison between the University of Utah and the Ute Tribe, was an arts and crafts workshop for both elders and the youth. Little Miss Ute Mountain Ute, Riley Lang and Betty Howe made an artsy story note book which included drawings and polaroid photos. Once they had finished, they had the option to take their artwork home or put the projects on display for everyone at the reunion to see and interact with.
“Horses became a way of life,” explained Alden Naranjo, a tribal elder, as he spoke about the origin of horses and Utes during his workshop at the Museum’s corral. The first day of the reunion, Alden Naranjo spoke about the functions of the horse to adults in the crowd. This included how they became creative and started to put items on the back of their horses — helping them traveling long distances and carry more. For the youth, he held a separate workshop the second day, which he explained the care and proper treatment a horse needed. “Hopefully our younger people become more interested in horses. Nowadays they are used for lawn ornaments,” Naranjo said while sharing some laughs with the young crowd. The youth were exited to get in the corral with the two horses and brush their hair — eager to ride the horses.
Mariah Cuch, of the Ute Indian Tribe, gave a cradleboard presentation on the first day of the conference in the Bony Kent Room of the Casino. She discussed the uses of cradleboards, like how it held the baby close to the mother. “It has functions, like with the bandana, it keeps the baby cool, in the shade and out of the sun.” Cuch then went on about the beliefs of tying the umbilical cord to something to get a certain characteristic in the child; she gave an example, “you would place it on an anthill so the baby will be outgoing.”
A lot of the participants claimed this was a great reunion, especially since this was the first time being hosted on the Southern Ute Reservation. The opportunity to share culture and language gave Cultural Preservation NAGPRA Coordinator, Cassandra Atencio inspiration. “I’m very honored that I had a good teacher in my late mother Dorothy Naranjo. She was able to teach me a skill and I learned how to make something that I was able to pass on and teach to somebody else. It makes me honored and very grateful to be able to have been brought up and have teachings like that,” Atencio said.
This year’s conference ended in the Sky Ute Casino Resort with the Retreat of the Colors, by the veterans on Wednesday, July 25, followed by a closing prayer given by Alfred Wall Jr. — the visiting tribes then went home after the blessing.