U should share royalties with Ute tribe

By By John Stafford

By John Stafford

At the U, we take pride in the nomenclature that represents our esteemed institution: the Utes. We wear the name on clothing, identify ourselves with it and decree the superiority8212;in every fathomable realm8212;of our mighty Utes to the lowly Cougars. Some would assume that an institution such as the U would stand in solidarity with the people whose name has become our own.

Although appropriation of the Ute name has helped the U garner a great deal of revenue via merchandising, the tribe has not received its rightful cut. A modest share of the tribe’s deserved royalties would prove integral in the betterment of some of our nation’s most marginalized people.

The U has made the Ute name a trademark. Royalties from trademarks are commonly expressed as a percentage of sales or a fixed fee per units sold. This is just the sort of compensation that director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs and Ute tribe member Forrest Cuch would like to see. Although Cuch described the overall relationship between the U and the Ute tribe in positive terms, he said he would like to see a 1 percent royalty on all Ute merchandise for continued use of the name.

e spoke of the benefits the U has received from the name and said, “(The Ute tribe has) not benefited, our students have not benefited. If you’re going to be the flagship for our tribe, we want our share of the benefits.”

Aside from sharing royalties, another benefit could be an improved outreach to incoming American Indian students who are faced with societal differences.

acia Holliday, an American Indian student in English, said she didn’t pass a test for acceptance into a Writing 2010 course because the way she had been brought up to express herself “was not recognized by the U’s academic standards.” She said she felt “embarrassed and ashamed” because the way she had been taught to communicate “was not valid in the eyes of the administration.” Holliday received help from a volunteer who was familiar with indigenous communication. Holliday was eventually accepted into the class after the volunteer testified on her behalf. She ended up posting the highest grade in the class for that semester.

Unfortunately, the cultural barrier faced by many American Indians is often insurmountable. American Indian communities, especially those on reservations, often have the highest rates of poverty, alcoholism and high school dropouts in the nation. Through increased cultural counseling and provision of the Ute tribe’s deserved royalties, the U can play an integral role in the development of young American Indians, their communities and society as a whole.

uch as the successful American Indian Teacher Training program, which trained American Indian students to teach in their communities8212;from 2003 to 2008, the program graduated or will graduate 39 American Indian students from the College of Education, compared with only 14 from 1979 to 2002, according to the Coalition to Protect American Indian Education Rights8212;were cut. This show that the U needs to reiterate its commitment to American Indians. Until then, our connection with the indigenous community will merely be superficial.

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