Over the weekend, Wellsville City posted a message on <a href=”http://www.wellsvillecity.com” target=”_blank”>their website</a> concerning the controversial Founder’s Day Sham Battle. The statement said that city officials had met with tribal members of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and the city is planning to review and make changes that will more accurately portray the relationship between Native Americans, especially the Shoshone nation and the Mormon pioneers in Wellsville.
On KVNU’s For the People program on Monday, Robert Lucero, director of the Ute Indian Tribes’ Political Action Committee, said the statement and dialogue does help.
“The first thought was this is definitely great progress as far as a respectful dialogue between the city of Wellsville and the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. I was happy to help other folks amplify this question to the point where we got this kind of deep response from the city council,” said Lucero.
To individuals who point to old Cowboy & Indian movies as justification for the events as portrayed in the Sham Battle, he said before those movies became popular there was a landmark film in 1915 called “Birth of A Nation.” The movie had all white actors and glorified the rise of the Klan and vilified black men.
“The movie was actually premiered at the White House by Woodrow Wilson. The 19-teens and ’20s were a very sad chapter in race relations and eugenics,” Lucero continued. “So when people in Wellsville talk about a hundred years ago, better be sure you know a lot about what was happening…specifically when it comes to radio (and) cinema. Don’t underestimate how much that impacted even little towns.”
Lucero said more progress has been made in race relations in the state. He mentioned that at the University of Utah football game over the weekend they had the color guard accompanied by members of the Ute Indian Tribe business committee and Ute tribe dancers from all three bands of the tribe featured at halftime. He said it served as an educational experience for those in attendance.
He said the rally planned in Wellsville on Wednesday at 5 p.m. will continue with more of an emphasis on a press conference and calm, collected dialogue about how to move forward.