The University of Utah is proud to announce the appointment of Samantha Eldridge as the institution’s Tribal Liaison for each of the state’s eight federally recognized indigenous nations. Eldridge will also maintain her role as director of the American Indian Resource Center where she will guide the Tribal Advisory Board.
“I want to recognize the leadership of our American Indian/Alaska Native faculty and staff who advocated for a high-level leadership position centered around building and maintaining better relationships with Utah’s tribal nations. As we work towards our shared goal of providing a transformative educational experience to tribal communities across Utah, senior leadership has responded with meaningful actions.” Eldridge said. “It is a step in the right direction of university-wide efforts to advance tribal relations recognizing the unique relationship we have as members of sovereign nations.”
Duties of the liaison include serving on the Task Force for Repatriation & Data Stewardship and assisting with the development of holistic processes to ensure that physical and digital artifacts, data, materials, and remains are returned to Indigenous groups. And that these artifacts are to be preserved for scholarly use by academics and community groups.
Eldridge also assumes the role previously held by Dr. Bryan Hubain, associate vice president for Student Development and Inclusion, who served as the university’s representative to respond to inquiries on issues related to the maintenance of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ute Indian Tribe. Samantha will serve in an advisory capacity to the President on the task force overseeing and implementing the provisions set forth in the MOU and addressing ongoing student issues. The terms of the MOU are up for review in March 2025.
“I am very happy that Samantha will be serving in this new role, I’m confident she will help advance the U’s commitment to meet the needs of Native/Indigenous students and communities,” said Taylor Randall, president of the University of Utah.” As liaison Samantha will consult with tribes to promote and cultivate campus and community partnerships to better serve all of Utah’s Tribal Nations.”
The liaison will also help ensure relevant university programs and policies are developed in collaboration with tribal heads of state or appropriate tribal government representatives, which establishes strong partnerships that honor tribal sovereignty.
“Samantha’s deep background in Utah’s indigenous and American Indian community, her lengthy experience working directly with many of our Utah tribes, and her success leading the AIRC and expanding resources for indigenous communities on campus make her the ideal candidate for this role,” says Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion.