Prioritizing the Ute language

Photo Credit: SU Cultural Preservation Dept.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Cultural Preservation and Education Departments were awarded a grant in 2020 from the Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. The Administration for Native Americans (ANA), Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance grant will help promote the teaching and preservation of the Ute language 

Both Departments recognize the consequence of losing our language and are determined to create more Ute language teachers to keep the language thriving,” explained Cultural Department Director Shelly Thompson. 

The grant provides two objectives around the Ute language: 1) create the Southwest Indigenous Language Development Institute (SILDI); and 2) certify at least 15, community members, as Ute language teachers. Throughout the preparation and creations of SILDI, Fort Lewis College decided to participate in the certification and now the certification will be from both the Southern Ute Tribe and Fort Lewis College, making it a state certification. 

The ten-course program begins Tuesday, June 1. The Foundations in Educational Linguistics will be the first class followed by Ute Sounds System, Native American Linguistics, and Media for Teaching and Classroom Management. The classes will continue throughout the next two years. 

The classes are made up of 37 students from Southern Ute, Ute Mountain, and Ute Tribe, descendants, and Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy staff. Classes will be a mixture of virtual and in-person, as some are required inperson. A group of community members called the Mentor’s Circle will provide encouragement and support to the students to further their success in learning and to help boost their confidence in speaking Ute.  



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