The University of Utah's College of Education Dean Michael Hardman recently turned back $2 million of federal grant money from the Office of Indian Education. These funds were allocated to the university as a result of one professor's efforts to increase the amount of qualified American Indian teachers.
Although the university wishes to term these funds as a ''scholarship,'' that is not the case. The main reason for the university trying to term these funds as ''scholarships'' as opposed to ''fellowships'' is to prevent itself from being banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for using ''hostile and abusive imagery and language'' towards American Indians in general.
The university was successful in building a cloud of dust to mask what can still be seen as ''hostile and abusive'' imagery and language. A university Web page shows the abusive manner in which the U of U sees the Ute people, after whom it has chosen to name itself. This picture clearly shows how uneducated the university administration is about the very Native people they represent. Why not display a picture of a true Ute person? Instead, the university shows a white, male, bare-chested student wearing a blue feathery headdress with war paint and sunglasses.
Another example of the university's non-commitment to American Indians is the Web page for American Indian courses. The page is almost totally blank. The university boasts about its American West Center, which houses almost 6,000 titled sources for American Indians, but yet they cannot use any of this information to build their Web page? How insane!
If you search even further within the Ethnic Studies Department, American Indian studies requirements as a minor, you will find one of the required courses, Alcohol and Substance Abuse. This course is listed as a requirement under the heading ''Contemporary Issues.'' Why not make this a required course for all students to take? A large amount of students at the university drink alcohol like there is no tomorrow!
At a recent U of U versus Brigham Young University women's volleyball match, a BYU student is photographed with a dry-erase board that reads ''Back to the reservation for U.'' This student is then captured in another photograph with the words, ''Trail of Tears Part II.''
This type of ''hostile and abusive'' language and imagery exists at the U of U in Salt Lake City and BYU in Provo. Please visit www.coalitiontoprotect.blogspot.com for more information. Your opinion is highly valued with regard to the BYU pictures. American Indian students will be requesting a meeting with the BYU president prior to the fall 2008 semester. A petition can be signed online with regard to the photographs.
It is my hope that student efforts will be backed by all American Indians who are offended by the racially inappropriate messages being written by one of America's most religious iconic institutions. Help stop the insults and racism in Utah!
- D.A. Yazzie
Salt Lake City