06 November 2021

Native American Heritage Month Preview

November is Native American Heritage Month and there are so many stories to tell about Utah’s indigenous people- how they have been treated in the past and present, how they have served in the military for hundreds of years (including a special unit at Fort Douglas), food heritage, notable leaders, technology, traditional sports and games (including modern tournaments), and so much more.

“Gathering” by DinĂ© (Navajo) artist Jack To'baahe Gene (Raymond Gene Jr.), 1980.
From the National Museum of the American Indian collections.

This year I would like to tell some stories about the people who lived in the Salt Lake Valley well before the Mormon pioneers arrived in 1847. Hopefully, these stories will help illustrate that when Brigham Young arrived it was not an empty valley, and indications of a long and rich indigenous culture were- and are -all around.

Native American Boarding Schools have been in the news lately and Utah certainly was a part of this history. Utah had 6 Native American boarding schools with the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City (formerly the Bushnell Army Hospital) being one of the largest in the U.S. and was one of the last to close, in 1984.

I will probably not get into any of these stories about the boarding schools but there is a good 2-part documentary produced by @pbsutah called “Unspoken: America's Native American Boarding Schools.”

I also highly recommend @pbsutah’s 5-part series about the 5 Native Tribes of Utah, “We Shall Remain.” This series is great because it mostly talks about the current conditions that our local Tribes face.

My next series of posts will be about the archaeological remains of SLC’s first population. My next post will be about why there is that terrible representation of an “arrowhead” at the Arena TRAX station on South Temple St in downtown SLC.

Direct links to the documentaries are here:

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