When most people think about the people of Utah, their first imagine of our state might not include the diversity that is present today; however, it’s important that we recognize that this state is home to various communities. If you went through the schooling system in Utah, you know how much of an emphasis there is on the history of the Mormon pioneers and their story in settling Utah. However, we would like to recognize that long before the early Anglo settlers came to Utah, these lands were home to several indigenous tribes. To the best calculations, the history of the Great Basin Indians goes back to the ancient Desert Culture of 9,000 to 10,000 years. To this day, indigenous communities continue to be present in the state of Utah, with there being eight federally recognized tribes: Confederated Tribes of Goshute Indians, Navajo, Northern Ute Tribe, Northwestern Band of Shoshone, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, San Juan Southern Paiute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute, and White Mesa Band of the Ute Mountain Ute.
Furthermore, shortly after the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 at Promontory Summit on the north side of the Great Salt Lake, mass migration of various ethnic groups settled in the growing Salt Lake Valley. Today, people of color make up about one-fifth of the state’s population and a quarter of Salt Lake City’s population. Children of color make up the majority of students in 15 of Salt Lake City’s 27 elementary schools. And nine of those schools have populations of 80 percent or higher. Latinxs now account for approximately 22% of residents, while Asians makes up approximately 4.5% and the Pacific Islander population, mainly comprised of Samoans and Tongans, represent roughly 2% of the population of Salt Lake. Utah is also home to some 25,000 refugees.
Our communities might still be underrepresented in our state, but we’re still growing, thriving, and changing the dynamics of the state. We are here and we make our presence noted.