Ute language speakers gather to help with translations

Photo Credit: Crystal Rizzo | SU Cultural Preservation

Discuss reestablishment of Ute Language Committee 

To promote the use of the Ute language, the Tribe’s Internal Audit Department requested assistance to translate certain internal audit concepts into the Ute language.  These concepts included trust, accountability, and improvement.  With the assistance of the Cultural Preservation Department, a meeting was held on April 16, to discuss the translation request and other Ute language initiatives. 

Attendees at this first meeting included: Williamette Dekay, Lida Sue Allen, Hanley Frost Sr., Linda Eagle, Ella-Louise Weaver, Ray C. Frost, Willette Whiteskunk, Renee Cloud, and John J. Washington II. 

The meeting began with introductions and participants engaging in discussion about their concerns to promote the Ute language, with many expressing that there is a great need for more work to be done to preserve the language. 

With several Southern Ute tribal members working in Internal Audit, there has been ongoing interest in using Ute words and concepts within the department.  “As a tribal government, I would like to see Ute words used more throughout the tribal campus and within departments, including here in Internal Audit,” Internal Auditor Jamie Rivera said. 

Responding to the request, the group of Ute language speakers discussed each internal auditing concept and how best to translate it into the Ute language.  The group was successful at helping with the translations.  With this task completed, the group discussed the possibility of reestablishing the inactive Ute Language Committee and holding a second meeting to further discuss how best to proceed. 

“There are other departments that may need assistance with Ute language translations and having a dedicated Ute Language Committee can help with those requests,” Internal Audit Assistant, Carolyne Eagle said. 

Attendance at the second meeting on April 18, included: Hanley Frost Sr., Lillian Seibel, Williamette Dekay, Lida Sue Allen, Linda Eagle, Daisy Eagle, Willette Whiteskunk, Autumn Sage, and Dr. Stacey Oberly. Hanley Frost Sr. was selected as meeting facilitator. With support in wanting to reestablish the committee, the group emphasized that all the tribal membership should have an opportunity to express interest in serving on the committee, which would then be up to Tribal Council to make such an appointment. 

According to Cultural Preservation Director, Crystal Rizzo, the Ute Language Committee has Tribal Council approved bylaws in place, but the committee has been inactive for nearly a decade.  In accordance with the approved bylaws, Tribal Council would have to appoint the members to serve on the committee. 

“During recent meetings with various tribal entities there was an expressed need and desire to incorporate Ute language in their materials and programming which can be supported by reestablishing the Ute Language Committee,” Rizzo said. 

The bylaws indicate that the committee membership consists of seven enrolled tribal members.  There are no age limitations or restrictions. The appointment by Tribal Council would be for a three-year term. “The Ute Language Committee’s sole focus would be on Ute language to ensure the preservation and promotion of the language for tribal members now and in the future,” Rizzo said. 

The working group on reestablishing the Ute Language Committee is planning to meet again, Wednesday, May 29, at 8 a.m. The meeting will be held in the Chief Ignacio Room. All those interested in attending are welcome. For those interested in serving on the Ute Language Committee, please submit a Letter of Interest to the Cultural Preservation Department. For questions, please contact Crystal Rizzo at 970-563-2306. 

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