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SALT LAKE CITY — The Ute Nation now has a monument to call its own.
On Saturday, a monument was dedicated at the mouth of Emigration Canyon to the Ute Nation, the first ever dedicated to the Native American tribe, organizers said.
"This monument was the right thing to do and this was the right place to do it," said monument project chairman Robert Race.
The 21-foot monument was unveiled Saturday before members of the Ute Tribe as well as the Sugarhouse chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers and the Emigration Canyon Historical Society who worked for 13 years to get the project completed.
Race said as people go through Emigration Canyon, there are plenty of markers and plaques noting the presence of the Mormon pioneers as well as the Donner-Reed Party. But there are none highlighting the presence of the Ute Nation. He believed there was room "for other historical events and people" who were part of the canyon to be recognized so the public would know, "much, much more happened."
"The ancient ones passed this very spot we're at," Race told the group that gathered to watch the dedication. "This ground is sacred to them. This ground is sacred to the Ute.
The monument is made of concrete, round river rocks and red sandstone blocks and is weather-sealed to protect the mortar and stones. A bronze eagle with an 11-foot wing span sits on top. There are four plaques embedded in the monument concrete.
The monument faces due west to overlook the valley where the Ute Nation lived.
As part of the dedication, a live golden eagle was brought to ceremony while a Ute spiritual leader, Rafeal Kanip, offered an opening prayer. The Red Spirit Drum Group from Ft. Duchesne offered several traditional Native American songs.