Watch the Utah Utes Athletic Director Talk About the Team's Native Logo


Dr. Chris Hill, the Utah Utes athletic director, talks in the below video about the use of Native imagery in the team's logo (the team is named, obviously, after the Ute Indian Tribe.)

What strikes you almost immediately is his tone; considerate, open-minded, and questioning. It's a posture rarely struck by representatives from professional franchises (looking at you, Dan Synder), and is one that would be nice to see emulated across the sports world.

An interesting bit of history for you, the Utah Utes were, up until 1972, the Utah Redskins. As stated on the team's official site, "the University of Utah officially adopted the nickname Utes for its athletic teams in 1972. The school uses the nickname with permission of the Ute Tribal Council."

Dr. Hill's video is asking members of the Native community (and non-Native community, it seems) to let the school know what practices held in support of the team (like the wearing of headdresses) might be offense to their namesake tribe. Do you have any thoughts for Dr. Hill? You can provide them here in the comments, and in the comments section of the clip below.

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honorindians's picture
Submitted by honorindians on
Dr. Hill, Thank you for the opportunity to respectively engage in dialogue about your mascot/logo. I will state my bias up front, I am a graduate of BYU Law School, however, I speak to you as an educator rather than a rival. I am also the Director of the Native Studies Program at the U. Of Nebraska-Omaha. I have studied and written extensively on this topic. I would say to you that the more you study the history of U.S./Native Nations relations, and our societies, religions and customs, the only conclusion you would come to is that you must retire your logo/mascot. Indian imagery in sports only serve to perpetuate ignorance and stereotypes about native peoples. Educational institutions should have no part in the perpetuation of ignorance. Since I know you probably will not propose retiring your mascot and/ or logo, I would suggest a couple of things that you could recommend to your institution. First, require that every student take an introductory Native Studies course, hopefully taught by a native professor/lecturer. Second, tell momma Whittingham to stop wearing the faux warbonnet. It sickens me every time I see the t.v. camera focus on her when she wears it. Most people do not understand that native regalia has spiritual and/or cultural significance. I'm sure the "U" has a significant number of LDS students. Tell them it is similar to non-LDS people wearing "garments." Finally, the world will go on if you retire the Indian logo/mascot. Some traditions are not worthy of saving.

vandalute's picture
Submitted by vandalute on
I think the Video was extremly well done, and puts alot of fans at ease. For months there has been rumors of changes coming to the program. However, I don't think "Utes" used with a license agreement and part of the proceeds of apparel benefiting the Ute nation or signs that say "Ute Spoken Here" is offensive. I think it is respectful of the traditions of the State of utah. As opposed to "The Redskins" or other teams that use it in an offensive manner, and/or without permission of the tribe (North Dakota comes to mind) I think that the University does well with the tradition, similar to Florida State who has the permission of Seminole nation to use their mascot and name. I can see why some would be offended by the "Drum and Feather" (or as the University likes to call it the "Circle and Deather") but I think the University of Utah has gone to great lengths to respect the Ute tribal council, promote knowledge and awareness of the issue with students, and fans, and while "Hoyo" and "The Redskins" were offensive they were changed, an while still apart of the legacy of Utah athletics, we have moved on and brought awareness to a tribe few people outside of the west know anything about.

spikeposey's picture
Submitted by spikeposey on