Indian Education

Utah State Board of Education

LORA E.TOM

Lora is the Chairwoman of the Paiute Tribe, which includes the Cedar, Kanosh, Koosharem, Shivwits and Indian Peaks Bands. Lora’s mother is Paiute and speaks the language fluently and her father is enrolled Ibapah Goshute and speaks fluent Goshute.  As has been the story of many American Indian families, her parents wanted her to learn and speak English and as a result she did not learn either of her parents’ language.  Lora’s mother and father were able to provide in Paiute and Goshute the words that are found in the 4th grade lesson plans and for that we thank them.  As with other tribes, the Paiute and Goshute languages vary a bit from band to band.

Lora was born in Tooele, Utah where her grandmother lived and her father worked in the Tooele Smelter.  Lora has three brothers, one older, two younger and a younger sister who all live in southern Utah.

She attended elementary schools in Grantsville and Brigham City.  When she was a sophomore she enrolled at Intermountain Indian School where her parents worked.  She was active in sports playing basketball, junior varsity, varsity and also ran track. She is proud of being Senior Vice-President in high school.

She enjoyed her time at Intermountain because she was able to be part of a group similar to her and the teachers took more of an interest in the students.  Lora was in algebra andgeometry classes and felt if she had stayed at Box Elder High that she would not have been able to achieve in math as well as she did.

At Intermountain she also enjoyed the dancing and singing and other cultural events that the students were able to participate in and she might have missed had she continued at Box Elder High.  She felt connected and proud of her heritage.

Lora completed medical assistant training at Bryman School in Salt Lake City.  She also attended Salt Lake Community College as well as Southern Utah University.  Lora continues to stress the need for young students to plan for some form of post high school training.

Lora’s father and grandfather were members of the Native American Church and daily prayed and taught the importance of prayer to Lora and her siblings.  When asked about one of her happiest moments, Lora said she had a happy life and not one particular moment stood out.  She had a happy childhood.

Lora is currently the chair of the Tribal Leaders in Utah which includes the tribes of Utes, Ibapah Goshutes, Skull Valley Goshutes, Northwestern Band of Shoshone and Paiutes.  Along with the leaders of other tribes, Lora has a great concern that the language of her tribe not be lost.  She is hoping that the elders will volunteer their time to teach the language to their grandchildren, to other children and share their stories.  She would like to have a library of learning about the culture and language of the Paiute tribe where children and adults can go.  She foresees the day when technology will play a role in having the true history of the Paiutes and their languages on CD-ROM.

Lora stresses the importance of the younger American Indians to be proud of their heritage and to ask and listen to elders and grandparents.  She said “if they don’t ask they will never know about their history”.  While it is important to be proud of being American Indian, she further states “… no longer can we lower our eyes and not listen; it is not disrespectful to look people in the eye. Look eye to eye.  No more timid historical figures. We must learn to be confident if we are to succeed in life.”

Lora was taught by her parents’ example not to hold major grudges against other people even if being harassed or called names.  She prides herself on being open, fair, reserving judgment and giving people benefit of the doubt. Her extended family includes nieces and nephews who are very important in her life.  Lora sees herself as a role model for them and is proud of their achievements.