Speak Your Piece | Season 1, Ep. 10 (Part 1): Sondra Jones, “Being & Becoming Ute” (2019)

Guest Bio
Sondra Jones has spent her adult life researching, listening, writing and doing fieldwork regarding Native American in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. With a secondary emphasis in anthropology, Jones’s fieldwork projects include work within Utah’s Uintah and Ouray Reservation. 

She has a PhD in U.S. from the University of Utah (2013) and has taught American, Utah and Native American Studies at the U of U, BYU and Utah Valley University. Author of over a dozen articles on Native American history, as well as two other published works, Jones’ book Being and Becoming Ute represents decades of careful research and writing. 

As Dr. Brian Cannon, former Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and now chairperson of the BYU History Department, stated: 

“…this sweeping narrative charts the history of the Ute people from prehistoric times into the twenty-first century, showcasing their pragmatic adaptive strategies and exploring their challenges. Jones helps readers to understand tensions and differences of opinion within Ute society between full-bloods and mixed-bloods, modernizers and traditionalists, and the difficulty of maintaining a Ute identity and cultural essence in the face of mainstreaming material and cultural forces.”


Jones describes how she came to her subject, how she and her husband transitioned from being English and mathematic majors, to pursing archeology and history. She shares a number of , early in her work with the Utes, including her Native American husband’s involvement as a Ute Sun Dancer (performing in the most important spiritual ceremony of the Ute tradition). 

Jones also describes the Ute’s ability at gradual adaption in technologies: and gathering (from on foot to horseback), ways, clothing; the Indian reservation system and its effects; the perils of seeking Native American “traditions;” the Spanish trails, caravan trading and the active slave trading, across Utah and the Southwest, prior to the mid-19th century; shortcomings in earlier historical approaches; stories of the Timpanogos Utes, their acquisition of the horse, and prior to this, their interest in creating an alliances with Spanish explorers, to aid in protecting against marauding Shoshoni from the north; various Ute leaders are named along with how they succeeded as leaders, and more. 

Do you have a question or comment, or a proposed guest for “Speak Your Piece?” Write us at “ask a historian” – askahistorian@utah.gov

URLs (book purchase links, associated exhibit, products, links, etc.)

To read about and purchase a copy of Being and Becoming Ute: The Story of an American Indian People (2019), go to the University of Utah Press (hard copy, soft and eBook) or gather up the ISBN number (9781607816577) and high tail-it to your local independent bookseller and order a copy there. 

**** URL Link to the above — https://uofupress.lib.utah.edu/being-and-becoming-ute/

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