Ute Tribe honored at halftime of Utah vs Arizona State game in Salt Lake City

Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-18 23:41:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- While all eyes were on the football field for Saturday’s tightly-contested game between Utah and Arizona State, it’s what happened at halftime that’s gaining a lot of attention.

Go Utes. Go Nuchu.

“In our language, we say 'Nuchu' for Utes,” said Ute Indian Tribe member and Ute halftime show MC Bart Powaukee during Saturday’s game. “I want everybody to say, 'Go Nuchu!' on the count of three. One, two, three…”

“Go Nuchu!” the crowd roared back.

It was part of a halftime history lesson, shared through the tradition of dance and drums.

The message? ‘Utes’ is more than just a name, it’s a recognition of the state’s heritage and it honors the Ute Tribe.

“We are made up of three bands,” Powaukee explained over the microphone, to the crowd of more than 40,000 people. “The White River band, The Uncompahgre band and the Uinta band.”

Ute history in this area runs deep, about 1,000 years.

The University of Utah works with the Tribal Business Committee to make sure everyone knows that. The tribe and university have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to lay out what the college does in order to carry the Ute name.

It includes items like outreach to tribal members and tribal youth, as well as steps to honor the tribe through different avenues, like recognizing Native American Heritage Month.

Saturday’s performance spread even further when the University posted a video on Twitter to share with its nearly 39,000 followers.

The video’s gotten more than 100 ‘favorites,’ and been re-tweeted dozens of times.

It’s all in hopes that when fans are cheering on the Utes, they’ll know they aren’t just inspiring a football team; they’re honoring a piece of Utah history.