"Did you say Utes? What's a Ute?" It's a famous line by the late actor Fred Gwynne in the movie My Cousin Vinny. It's funny, but many Utes fans have heard that question before from fans of opposing universities. Alabama fans asked us at the Sugar Bowl. Kentucky fans asked the question during NCAA Tournament run-ins. Well, the Utah athletics department and the Ute Indian Tribe want to raise awareness of what it means to be a Ute with the launch of the "Ute Proud" campaign. An educational video (see below) featuring tribe representative Forrest Cuch rolled out today and will be played on the video board at all Utah home events.
Ute Proud t-shirts, featuring a design that incorporates a graphic by a Ute artist, the circle and feather logo and the Ute Tribe's official seal, will debut at Saturday's Fan Fest. All proceeds from the t-shirt sales, which will sell for $20, will benefit Ute Indian scholarships and youth programs. In addition to the Fan Fest on Aug. 23, the shirts will be available soon at the U. Campus Store and area Red Zone stores.
The Utah athletics department will also distribute Ute Proud cards at the Fan Fest and all athletic events. The cards are one in a series of informational tools the U. has created to encourage fans to learn more about the Ute Indian Tribe and thereby, what it means to be "Ute Proud."
The education effort, which is also promoted on UtahUtes.com/UteProud and UteTribe.com, explains that the Utes are a Great Basin Native American tribe with more than 3,000 tribal members-more than half living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Northeastern Utah. The Utes are important contributors to Utah's economy through developing energy resources and raising livestock. The Utes speak their own language derived from the Uto-Aztecan language family. They were among the first tribes to acquire the horse from the Spanish, which transformed their culture.
The Ute Proud campaign will include a Native American Heritage Awareness promotion for the Utah-Arizona football game on Nov. 22. Utah's helmets for that game will bear the Ute tribal seal, the game ball will be presented to a representative of the tribe, the Ute Honor Guard will present the national colors and there will be a special halftime performance arranged by the Ute tribe's Pow Wow Committee.
"We feel honored to represent the Ute Tribe," said Utah Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill. "Our teams, coaches, staff and the entire University community hope our fans will join us in representing the Utes with dignity and respect at all times, and proudly saying ‘Go Utes!'"