Bridging the Gap: Efforts to Connect with our Indigenous & Native American Communities
In May of 2021, out of a deep respect for rich and important part the indigenous communities play in our City, Mayor Mendenhall began unprecedented work to grow the relationship between the City and Indigenous communities. In August of 2021, the Mayor’s Office hosted our first history-making event at City Hall, spending two days with Ute and Ute-Mountain Tribal Leaders.
The goal of that visit was to share space, get to know each other, and listen to what their government leadership has done to weather the pandemic. At the direction of the Mayor, Since August of 2021 Ashley Cleveland, Salt Lake City Deputy Director of Community Outreach, has led efforts to host virtual roundtables and engage with indigenous residents, grassroots groups, and nonprofit organizations to navigate growing our relationships and figuring out the specific ways to serve Indigenous and Native American communities. The results of these relationships have presented an opportunity for Indigenous representation in our Parks, Natural Lands, Urban Forestry & Trails (PNUT) Advisory Board with the inclusion of staff from Dine’ Bike-yah. We continue to work to grow important representation of indigenous communities on our City boards and commissions through outreach and potential policy change.
On November 1, 2022, during the annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month, The Mayor’s Office hosted a joint press event with City Council and an Indigenous and Native American Leader Roundtable to meet and network between the Mayor, city staff, and indigenous community leaders. We also have collaborated with the filmmakers behind “This Was the Place,” through the Salt Lake City Public Library, Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, and the Native American Resource Center at the University of Utah to highlight and support a series of events throughout Native American Heritage Month in November. If you are an Indigenous or Native American organization, resident or employee, please reach out to our Deputy Director of Community Outreach, Ashley Cleveland if you would like to learn more about how you can get involved in these efforts.
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Land Acknowledgement of the Ute (all bands); Paiute, Goshute, Dine’/Navajo; Shoshoni; Arapaho; Oglala Sioux; Cheyenne River Sioux; Wind River Shoshone; Cherokee; or Rosebud Sioux ancestral lands.
Mayor’s Remarks for Native American Heritage Month
“Thank you for being here today. It fills my heart to spend this time with you recognizing and honoring the immense contributions Native Americans have in our community. As the capital city of Utah, it is important for Salt Lake City to not only recognize the First Nations peoples and the meaningful role they play within our everyday urban fabric, but also to lead out in true partnership with them. The contributions of the Ute, Paiute, Goshute, Dine’/Navajo, and Shoshoni are immeasurable and we strive as a city to move forward in consultation and true collaborative leadership with our relatives. On this day of recognition, we also want to acknowledge the Arapaho, Oglala Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Wind River Shoshone, Cherokee, and Rosebud Sioux tribes from neighboring states. Over the last two years, this administration has connected with formal Tribal Government Leadership to engage as allies. This relationship of understanding is important to me in a way that far surpasses politics or government, but that brings us closer together through learning, building and healing. One of the most influential moments for me came last year when I spent two days with the Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Leaders and their council – touring the city, picking berries, sharing meals and stories. It was amazing to see these traditions firsthand and to witness the passion and love with which these traditions have been handed down for generations. From Community Based Organization events, to hosting small virtual roundtables, to day-to-day communication, it’s been my priority, and a priority of my administration, to seek out opportunities that let us build WITH indigenous and Native American residents and beyond. And although we are still in the very new life, the very new path of healing and sharing power – we are very excited to move forward, and take great pride in helping convene symbolic events like these. They give us an opportunity to recognize our diversity and to deepen our understanding of how we might serve the Indigenous and Native Americans in our City in ways that are tailored to them and their needs in accessing city services. Diversity starts with inviting different faces to the table, and it creates inclusion in our world by having them stay and CHANGE with us. Thank you to the Native American Resource Center for doing the heavy lifting with our Community Outreach and Equity & Inclusion Teams in organizing today’s festivities and thank you to the Urban Indian Center and our State Office of Indian Affairs for gracing us with their presence. I look forward to spending the morning together.”