As the University of Utah nation anticipates an epic battle with Brigham Young University this Saturday and an eventual repeat trip to a Bowl Championship Series game, it was with great dismay that I read a Nov. 11 article titled "Utah athletics: Drum and feather logo may not last." In the midst of my enthusiasm for the success of our football team, I cannot stand idly by and not register my vote against any further dilution and bastardization of our Utah Ute identity. Enough is enough!
As a loyal Ute fan for more than 35 years and twice a graduate of the University of Utah, I have watched as the symbols of our school pride and our unique identity in the landscape of collegiate athletics have been tossed aside in the name of alleged political correctness and sensitivity. The travesty of the 2005 inquisition that resulted in the elimination of our Ute Warrior mascot still reverberates with much of the core Utah fan base. I appreciate you bringing to light in your article the pervasive mindset of the current administration. However, I need more from you.
You state in your article that "Utah has approval from the Ute Tribal Council to use the word "Utes" and the drum and feather logo, but use of Native American symbols by athletic teams remains a sensitive topic." I ask you for more thorough reporting to identify those for whom this remains a sensitive topic. Is it the NCAA? If so, then specifically who is promoting this agenda? What are the names of individuals who have gone on the record stating that the association with Native American tribes by colleges is "hostile and offensive"? If not the NCAA, then who or what entity continues to push us away from those symbols that have for years before defined who we are and what we represent.
Again, as you state in the article, the Ute Tribe supports the continued association of the University of Utah with their tribe. As you quote Forest Cuch, a member of the Ute Tribe who serves as the executive director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, he said that the school still has the tribe's approval to use the symbols. "One reason we support it is if it weren't for that, there would be no other landmark that the tribe existed."
I argue my point from a similar perspective. If we allow the Bernie Machens and Chris Hills to continually bend against the breeze of NCAA socialist conformity, then all with which we have identified as Utah Utes will fade from memory. If Florida State has been successful in maintaining its identity as the Seminoles, and their mascot, Chief Osceola, continues to be an active part of their public image, then why should we Utah Utes surrender our symbols?
The hypocrisy is evident.
If the Utah administration and the NCAA are so concerned about potentially offensive mascots and nicknames, why don't they focus their attention on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? Hey, I'm part Irish. Maybe I am offended by the perpetuation of the stereotype that Irish people have short fuses. And what about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? Doesn't it have a stake in protecting the offensive use of animal images? Gamecocks are used for cock fighting, and look what happened to Michael Vick. Bulldogs, Longhorns, Tigers — lend me your ears!
My response to all of this lunacy so far has been a simple gesture of support to return the drum and feather and the Ute Warrior mascot to a position of prominence. I have altered my U of U license plate by scraping off the block U and replacing it with a drum and feather logo sticker. My response in the future will be far more vocal and militant.
It's up to us to save the drum and feather!
Phil Johnsen of Riverton describes himself as a "Ute fan for life."
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