It was interesting to read that the Uintah-Ouray Ute tribe is upset that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) has chosen the Fort Hall Shoshone-Bannock Tribe as the host tribe for the 2002 Winter Games. In response, the Utes are going to give themselves the title of aboriginal host tribe, according to Larry Cesspooch, Ute tribal spokesman.

Many in Utah might find aboriginal kind of a stretch for the Utes. After Colorado Territory was separated from Utah Territory, most of the Ute tribe lived in Colorado, not Utah. They did not leave Colorado until they were forcibly relocated to Utah after the Meeker (Colo.) Massacre in 1879.

Since, over time, numerous Indian cultures in what later became the state of Utah have developed, transformed or vanished, the term aboriginal depends on the dateline you chose. Further, since the Indians of Utah were nomadic, they undoubtedly crossed back and forth, little knowing or caring where the white man drew his artificial state lines. That being said, a good case can be made that the Indians who inhabited the land that later became the state of Utah, at the time of the arrival of the whites, were more Shoshonean than Ute.

The Uintah Reservation was created by presidential order in 1861 by Abraham Lincoln and ratified by Congress in 1864 for the Indians of Utah as distinct from the Utes, who were primarily living in Colorado at the time. Many of the Indians inhabiting the valleys of Utah were relocated to this reservation long before the arrival of the Utes in large numbers.

Even today, the descendants of these first Utahns living on the Uintah Reservation and other reservations in Utah (and Fort Hall, Idaho) ardently maintain they are Shoshone, not Ute. So perhaps the choice of the Fort Hall Shoshone-Bannock Tribe is truly most representative of the aboriginal peoples living in what later became the state of Utah.

Dan Stephens

Midway