"Breaking 100 Years of Silence" Exhibition Demonstrates Ute Mountain Tribe's Resilience

(Photo/7 Ute Artists of White Mesa)
(Photo/7 Ute Artists of White Mesa)

On Saturday, March 23, 2024, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is unveiling its "100 Years of Silence" project in a free, public launch at The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City. The exhibition seeks to demonstrate the resilience on the 101st anniversary of the “Posey War,” which began on March 19, 1923.

Ute elders, storytellers, artists, and musicians will weave narratives to showcase the indomitable spirit of the Ute Mountain Ute people over the last century. Saturday's program is free and open to the public.The exhibit will be opened on March 23 at 10 a.m. with a public launch for the 100 Years of Silence project from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

An open house will follow until 6 p.m. Registration is free and open to all as space permits.

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The attack that began on March 19, 1923 led to the weeks-long, forcible internment of around 80 Ute women, children, and men in a barbed wire cage in the streets of Blanding; the murder of two Ute men; the loss of access to traditional Ute land in the Bears Ears area; and the coerced enrollment of Ute children in boarding schools.

Never before has the Ute community come together — through history, art, and storytelling — to tell their version of the tragic events that unfolded in March and April of 1923. The 100 Years of Silence project seeks to promote healing by sharing the Ute perspective on the incident, and to showcase their legacy of endurance.

The Leonardo Museum will host an exhibit of seven artists from the Ute Mountain Ute community of White Mesa, who were chosen to make art related to what happened 101 years ago, speaking to memory and hope for the future.

“Let us mark this occasion together,” said Shaun Ketchum, project director for the 100 Years of Silence and a descendant of Posey. “We will end a century of silence with compassion, empathy, and unity.”

“Our Elders told me since I was a young man, you never forget about our land. The Ute Way. That means the land and the water, you don’t ever forget about it. It’s what we fought for,” said Malcolm Lehi, councilman for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.

“Stories are behind each piece I beaded,” said Toni Pelt, a Ute Mountain Ute artist whose beadwork will be displayed at the Leonardo exhibit. “The hummingbirds represent healing. I feel like in my story, my artwork, I wanted to bring out the healing part. I didn’t want to stay in the past. I wanted to bring our healing to now.”

REGISTER HERE to attend the event.

This event will also be livestreamed on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/utahdinebikeyah/live_videos/

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