The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah has a vision: To build a Native American cultural center on traditional Paiute lands in Southern Utah. But the city controlling the use of the lands has rejected the tribe's proposal.
On June 12, the Springdale, Utah town council denied a request by the tribe to rezone 178 acres of hillside land from residential to commercial so the Paiutes could build a cultural center. The vote was a unanimous 5-0 against the tribe's proposal.
“Basically, I explained to them, 200 years ago, if you’d gone up into that canyon you wouldn’t have found anything but Paiutes. Europeans were welcome with open arms, and now the Paiutes go up there and ask for rezoning for a cultural center on less than a quarter of a square mile of land and the arrogance of Europeans is to tell them ‘you’re not welcome on that property.’," Gaylord Robb, a spokesman for the tribe, told StGeorgeUtah.com.
Among historical and cultural presentations, the center would have created trails and educational replicas of traditional Paiute dwellings and sites. Demonstrations along the trails would include showing and educating the public on medicinal plants and foods the Native Americans worked with and ate at the time before colonizing Europeans arrived.
According to StGeorgeUtah.com, Springdale Mayor Pat Cluff empathized with the tribe's desire to build a Native American cultural center, but said “it was a really big project and it was in the foothills in an area that has no commercial zoning at present. There are sensitive lands over there. Preserving the character of the town is a big thing for us.”
What that really means, said Robb, is "they don't want their view blocked."
But there is still hope that the Paiute Tribe's vision will yet be realized, with the city and the tribe working on alternative proposals.
“It’s not a dead issue. We’re examining other options, but I cannot comment on those right now,” Robb said.