I met a young man who is a member of the Nothern Ute Tribe. I will use his last name of Serawop. He is age 19 and has lived in the Uinta Basin all of his life. We met at a supermarket in Roosevelt, Utah.
I asked how his people were doing. He said, “I am not too sure. If we think of it in the Basin way [the Uinta Basin of northeast Utah], people don’t like us. We get per kappa and people want to know why we get it. Just because we get money and we live on the reservation doesn’t mean that we are different. We are just like everyone else.” Serawop has a native side and a white side.
How are you doing? “I am doing quite well. I graduated from high school last year. I am working in asphalt for a year and then going to college.”
Are the loops in your ears native American? “I have always wanted to have gauges. Piercing ears was a common tradition for Native Americans.”
What is it like with having a larger American culture, a native culture and a Mormon culture? “It is quite different. Personally, I am agnostic. All natives have had problems with the settlers moving onto the land. It is like having a little nation inside of a nation.”
What do you look forward to for your future? “I wanted to be a medical doctor, but I am not decided yet. Maybe, political science. History came easy to me in high school. I want to go to college and make something of myself.”
What do you look for for the future for the Northern Utes? “A lot of the people of my dad’s age are dying in their forties. A lot of my generation are not learning the language. It is hard to find someone who knows the entire language. A lot of people my age are not learning their family history.”
Video showing Uinta Basin taken in or near Northern Ute Tribal Lands