Ute Language Policy

"The voice of the land is in our language."

The Ute Language is a blessing given to our people by the Creator. It is spiritual and must be treated as such. It is a part of our land as well as a part of our people. There is no way that our language can be separated from our traditional beliefs and practices. Our language and our culture are one. Because we believe that education is the transmission of culture and that all our people must have genuine freedom of access to education, we assert that all aspects of the educational process shall reflect the beauty of our Ute values and the appreciation of our environment. These language policies shall manifest consideration of the whole person, taking into account the spiritual, mental, physical and cultural aspects of the person within the Ute family and Tribe. We therefore set forth the following policy statements to re-affirm our commitment to the promotion, preservation and enhancement of our language, culture and traditions as a blessing for the future generations.

SECTION I - Authority

The authority to establish these policies to be effective within the exterior boundaries of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation is derived from the following: The Constitution and By-Laws of the Northern Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and its Corporate Charter; our treaties with the United States Government; the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638; 88 Stat. 2203; 25 U.S.C. 450 and 450a); the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (92 Stat. 469; Public Law 95-341; 42 U.S.C. 1996); the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-608; 92 Stat. 3069; 25 U.S.C. 1901) Education Amendments of 1978 Act (Public Law 95-561; 25 U.S.C.); and Supreme Court Decisions such as the Martinez and Mescalero Decisions, and all other decisions, federal statutes and Executive Orders recognizing the sovereign powers of the Northern Ute Tribe.

SECTION II - Status of the Ute Language

The Ute language is the indigenous language of the Northern Ute Nation. Since time immemorial, Ute has been, and will continue to be, our mother or native tongue which is the natural instrument of thought and communication.

The Ute language is the national language of the Northern Ute Nation in a political, social and cultural sense.

The Ute language is the official language of the Northern Ute Nation and may be used in the business of government - legislative, executive and judicial - although in deference to, and out of respect to speakers of English, English may be utilized in official matters of government.

We declare that the Ute language is a living and vital language that has the ability to match any other in the world for expressiveness and beauty. Our language is capable of lexical expansion into modern conceptual fields such as the field of politics, economics, mathematics and science.

Be it known that the Ute language shall be recognized as our first language, and the English language shall be recognized as our second language. We assert that our students are fully capable of developing fluency in our mother tongue and the foreign English language and we further assert that a higher level of Ute mastery results in higher levels of English skills.

SECTION III - Parent and Community Involvement

It shall be the policy of the Northern Ute Tribe to encourage parents to teach their children to become proficient in both the Ute language and English. It shall further be the policy of the Northern Ute Tribe to involve parents and the communities to the greatest extent possible, in the instruction of the Ute Language Department within the Ute Tribal Division of Education.

SECTION IV - Ute Language an Integral Part of all School Curriculum

It shall be the policy of the Northern Ute Tribe to require Ute language instruction for Ute and other Indian students in grade levels beginning with preschool through the 12th grade, subject to the desires of parents who desire this instruction. Ute language instruction is optional at the adult education and post-secondary levels. This policy shall require the local education agencies (school districts) to implement Ute language instruction as an integral part of the regular/required curriculum in all schools serving more than 10 Indian children (grades K-12), who desire this instruction. This policy shall include Ute children and other Indian children attending all preschool programs, including the Ute Tribal Head Start Project, subject to the desires of parents who desire this instruction.

SECTION V - Eminent Persons/Elders

We recognize that among our Ute people there are certain traditional persons who possess knowledge beyond that of academics with degrees. These people of knowledge are recognized by the general membership as eminent persons. It shall be the policy of the Northern Ute Tribe to encourage the use of tribal "elders" to the greatest extent possible in providing Ute language instruction to Indian children. This policy includes instruction in other areas, such as: oral histories; history; crafts; dances; music, etc. The use of tribal elders in program planning, program development and evaluation is also encouraged.

SECTION VI - External Research and Studies Require Tribal Approval

With regard to external research, scientific investigations and study requests by any non-tribal affiliated individuals, groups, organization, colleges and universities, about or pertaining to the Northern Ute Tribe or its membership in general, it shall be the policy of the Northern Ute Tribe to require official sanction and approval of all said research, modern communications media productions and/or studies by the Ute Tribal Business Committee prior to their execution. Sanction and approval of all educational research and related studies shall be obtained as specified in the procedure below:

A. Research Proposal Format

1. All requests to conduct research or data gathering on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation as referred to above must be documented and submitted to the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee on behalf of the Tribal Business Committee. The appropriate department or division head affected shall assist and advise the Committee in its review. The research proposal document must include the following:

a. Statement of intent (goals and objectives)

b. Procedures and activities (research schedule/plan)

c. Techniques or methodology

d. Funding source

e. Publishing and copyright intent (royalty agreement)

f. Human subjects protection clause/statement

g. Professional fees to Ute eminent persons

B. Public Hearing

If a research proposal or study is of a controversial nature or would have a large-scale effect upon the lives of many Ute tribal members, the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee may elect to conduct a public hearing to obtain public comment. Such public hearing will be conducted within 30 days of the date at which it was determined that such a hearing was deemed necessary.

C. Business Committee Approval

In matters of a serious nature the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee will submit their recommendation to the Ute Tribal Business Committee for official sanction and approval by resolution. Upon receipt of a certified tribal resolution which indicates approval of the project, the applicant may proceed with research activities as authorized.

SECTION VII - Copyright of Publications and Materials

All publication rights shall reside with the Northern Ute Tribe as copyright owner. The Northern Ute Tribe shall retain exclusive publishing rights to a single publisher for a period of twenty-eight years to be renewable for successive twenty-eight year periods. Regarding royalties, the Committee shall negotiate, case by case, prior to submitting its recommendation to the Ute Tribal Business Committee. The following areas shall be included in this Section 7, and the previous Section 6: 1) All printed publications and documents including books, photographs, photo collections, oral history collections, orthographies, language/grammar guides, teacher guides, curriculum materials, and, master's and doctoral theses obtained from the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. 2) Film, video, audio and photography productions. 3) Artifacts such as Ute or Indian tools, ornaments or apparel or other handmade objects or workmanship of Northern Ute or Indian origin on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation from aboriginal times to the present. 4) All sacred objects and ancestral remains.

Ute tribal members as individuals shall enjoy full freedom of speech and the publication rights including the right to negotiate and retain royalties, except that the individual shall consult with the Language and Culture Committee regarding publication and productions of religious ceremonies.

A. Tribally Financed Publications and Materials

The Northern Ute Tribe shall reserve the right to acquire ownership and copyrights to all written publications (documents), audio/visual productions and artifacts resulting from work or data collection, all of which have been financed in whole or in part with tribal funds, and have been collected or obtained on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. Tribally financed publications, audio/visual productions and related publications must include a statement that, "This project/publication has been financed in whole or in part by the Northern Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Utah."

B. Non-Tribally Financed (Private) Publication and Materials

Concerning ownership of non-tribally financed research and studies by non-tribal affiliated groups or individuals conducted on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation which result in written publications, films and artifacts collection: publishing rights royalties and ownership of copyrights shall be negotiated and determined hereafter upon initial review and approval of the research or study proposal be the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee on behalf of the Ute Tribal Business Committee as set forth in other sections of this policy.

SECTION VIII - Sanction of Ute Orthography

No single orthographical system shall be presented as an "official" writing system until the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee have reviewed and evaluated the system and officially identified the system as the "official" system. No language program shall operate or imply by its operation that their system is "official" until this sanctioning has occurred.

SECTION IX - Teacher Training

A. Pre-Service Training

The Ute Tribal Division of Education shall encourage all schools of education at colleges and universities to provide pre-service training in Ute language theory and methodology for teachers preparing to teach Ute students. Schools of education shall be encouraged to provide pre-service training toward the understanding and appreciation of Ute language, culture and traditions so that teachers can knowledgeably prepare appropriate curricula.

B. In-Service Training

All teachers of Indian children shall be required to complete a minimum of three (3) hours of college credit within one year of their beginning date of employment in Ute language, Ute history or Indian studies related courses as approved by the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee. This policy shall only apply to teachers in schools serving more than 10% Indian children.

SECTION X - Ute Language Culture and Traditions Committee

The Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall be appointed by the Business Committee to establish policy and make decisions regarding the Ute language and culturally related issues.

SECTION XI - Composition of the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee

The Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall be composed of representatives from each of the programs or projects currently providing Ute language instruction and cultural preservation on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation: Ute elders; a delegated member of the Ute Tribal Business Committee; and other individuals who have been active in language and cultural preservation and maintenance throughout their own careers. The Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall be coordinated under the Tribal Division of Education. The Committee shall meet at least four times a year and as deemed necessary. The activities of the Committee shall be published in the Ute Bulletin and/or otherwise distributed to the tribal membership from time to time. All meetings of the Committee shall be open to the public and any member of the tribe may express concerns on the language and culture issues question during the times of the scheduled meetings. Minutes of each meeting are to be kept and disseminated to the tribal members upon request. The Committee shall be compensated for per diem and mileage at the current rate.

SECTION XII - Role of Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committeem

The role of the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

1. To serve as the primary planning, screening and review board for all issues relating to the Ute language, Ute history and Ute cultural instruction or activities on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.

2. To assist the Ute Tribal Business Committee in the formulation of policies pertaining to the Ute language, Ute history and Ute cultural activities on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation except for such activities as the Sun Dance, the Bear Dance, other religious activities, the annual Pow-Wow, and such activities as promoted by the Handgame Committee. Specifically, the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall work cooperatively with other tribal committees and tribal individuals to insure that all cultural matters, including the preservation of ancient and contemporary burial sites, sacred objects, ancestral remains and traditional and ceremonial customs such as burial practices shall be protected in negotiations and all agreements with any external entity. The Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall submit recommendations to the Tribal Business Committee for final approval.

3. To conduct program planning coordination and program development efforts (both federally and privately funded) concerning the Ute language and culture activities.

4. To determine the criteria for Ute language competencies and fluency and to develop and plan screening procedures.

5. To review and approve all Ute culturally related curriculum (textbooks, workbooks and other instructional materials, modern communication media productions) to be used to provide instruction to Ute people in the Ute language, history and culture.

6. To review and approve all Ute language, Ute history and Ute culture-related research studies and proposals submitted by outside entities, colleges, universities, private groups and individuals, and recommend approval or non-approval to the Tribal Business Committee; includes the responsibility to review and reserve approval regarding outside requests for ethnobotanical information, and cultural and socio-economic information on belief systems.

7. To screen and determine Ute language competence for Ute-speaking individuals desiring to obtain college credit from colleges and universities for speaking a second language as required by the institutes of higher education and for those individuals aspiring to be language instructors.

8. To review and reserve approval on all other assignments and tasks related to the Ute language, Ute history and Ute cultural activities as may be designated and assigned by the Ute Tribal Business Committee.

9. The Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee shall promote and respect the right to our cultural practices and religious freedom for all tribal members consistent with Ute tribal law and provisions of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (92 Stat. 469; Public Law 95-341; 42 U.S.C. 1996); specifically, such practices shall include protection of ancient and contemporary burial sites, sacred objects and ancestral remains and traditional and ceremonial customs such as burial practices.

SECTION XIII - Funding for Language Policy Implementation

The Northern Ute Tribal Council recognizes that the Department of Interior has the responsibility to provide funds for such priority tribal education programs as the Northern Ute Language Policy Program under the authority of the Snyder Act, Public Law 93-638 and Public Law 95-561 and to request sufficient appropriations from the Congress. From time to time, the Tribal Council shall submit budget requests for language policy implementation to the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Department of Interior and to other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education which share in the federal trust responsibility to provide education services in perpetuity to the Federally Recognized Tribes.

SECTION XIV - Adherence to International Law

In keeping with Article 27 of the International Government on Civil and Political Rights of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, we, the government of the Northern Ute Nation, declare that all persons within our borders belonging to non-Ute ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own languages. We rely on the reciprocal adherence to this doctrine by the member states of the United States specifically as this doctrine pertains to the right of language use.

SECTION XV - Policy Amendments

The Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee may revise and update these policies as deemed necessary, with final approval by the Northern Ute Tribal Business Committee.

Resolution No. 84-96

April 10, 1984

Uintah and Ouray Agency

Fort Duchesne, Utah

WHEREAS, the Northern Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation is aware that national policy regarding bilingual education is that the Native languages shall be used as only a transitional vehicle toward English, and

WHEREAS, The Northern Ute Tribe is aware that there is a current political and legislative effort to do away with languages other than English, and

WHEREAS, the existing educational system has been systematically bent on eradicating our language, culture and traditions until we are at a point where our language, culture and traditions are in danger of being lost forever, and

WHEREAS, the Ute people are determined to preserve and maintain our language, culture and traditions because without these we would cease to exist as a people,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE UINTAH AND OURAY TRIBAL BUSINESS COMMITTEE OF THE UTE INDIAN TRIBE, THAT the Northern Ute Tribe does hereby adopt the Northern Ute Language Policy for the present and future generations of Ute people.

Floyd Wopsock, Chairman

Frank Arrowchis, Vice-Chairman (absent)

Lester Chapoose, Member (abstain)

Homey Secakuku, Member (absent)

Leon Perank, Member

Stewart Pike, Member (absent)

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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