Elder From Southern Ute Tribe Visits 5th Grade History Class

By Julienne Morris-Scott '28

LaTitia Taylor is a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and she visited our 5th grade classroom to teach us about her culture and storytelling. Ms. Taylor told us about how her language originated. The Southern Ute Tribe lives near New Mexico and so some of their language is similar to Spanish. Ms. Taylor also told us about the different Ute tribes and where they live, for example one of the Ute tribes lives near the Four Corners which is a place where you can be in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all at once. The Southern Ute Indian tribe lives on the border of both Colorado and New Mexico. Ms. Taylor showed our class some traditional beadwork and clothing that she received as a gift from friends. 

The 5th grade class is writing origin stories, and when Ms. Taylor came to our class Zoom, she shared one of the Southern Ute origin stories. The Southern Ute story that Ms. Taylor shared was about why coyotes walk on four legs. I think hearing a real origin story has helped us write our own. There are many important elements in writing an origin story, and Ms. Taylor’s story had so many of them. I think it helped us understand how to use the elements in our own writing. 

My Experience With Storyteller, Ms.Taylor

By Chase Butler '28

I liked that Ms. Taylor taught my class some words in her native language. A word I learned, tog’-oiak, means "thank you" in the language Shoshonean. I also liked that she gave great descriptive facts about her amazing culture. It almost made me feel like I was a part of the tribe for a second because she went into detail about the tribe's traditions in her culture. Her name in her tribe is Bluebird. She showed what her traditional clothing looked like and the culture related to the clothes. Ms. Taylor also showed us her native beadwork and jewelry. The bead designs usually represent something like weather, memories or good times. My class also got to make bead work. My beads represent the wonderful memories I've had with my baby sister.

Ms. Taylor talked about why they only tell stories in the winter so they won’t wake up or disturb the spirits. Ms.Taylor showed her traditional dress that she wears to ceremonies. Her ribbon art that was shown to us was beautiful and she talked about how both the dress and the ribbon art were special to her. Also, the Utes do not have a migration story because they believe they always lived in the mountains. Because she is an elder, she was able to tell us her Ute Creation story. It was about a coyote and a wolf named Sinawav. The wolf was a trickster who tricked the coyote into being very curious and suspicious about the job he had for him. The Ute Creation story was told by and passed on by Alden Naranjo; he was a revered Southern Ute Elder.

"I treasure the opportunity to teach fifth grade, our youngest group of students, in a creative and exhilarating environment. The Gregory School provides a unique arena where divergent ideas are encouraged and learning is personalized to each student's talents, passions and interests. It is within this arena that our students provide the spark that ignites my enthusiasm and joy for teaching."
Nina Hernandez, B.A.
Nina Hernandez graduated from Fort Lewis College and has been teaching fifth grade at The Gregory School since 2016.

3231 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson, AZ 85712
Phone: (520) 327-6395
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The Gregory School is an independent, private,
non-profit 501(C)(3), coed day school for grades 5-12.