Effort to abolish the seal of the University of New Mexico
On May 1, "Over 100 people including students, faculty, administration, and community members joined The Red Nation and the KIVA Club for a speak-out in front of the president’s office on University of New Mexico’s campus to abolish the school’s racist seal featuring the infamous colonizers, a conquistador and a frontiersman."
According to a report at The Red Nation website, "Black, Chicano, LGBTQ, Indigenous, Palestinian, Asian, and other working-class people came together and united against a common enemy, colonialism and capitalism."
According to Rebecca Hampton of Liberation News over 100 people including students, faculty, administration, and community members joined The Red Nation and the KIVA Club for a speak-out in front of the president’s office on University of New Mexico’s campus to abolish the school’s racist seal featuring the infamous colonizers, a conquistador and a frontiersman. UNM is located on traditional Indigenous Pueblo land, where occupation and genocide against Native people is ongoing.
The Red Nation organizer David Maile said, “Respect existence or expect resistance!” The seal mocks the existence of Native people, but today activists and community members celebrated 500 years of resistance and carried the struggle forward for liberation and self-determination for Native people.
UNM directly profits from its occupation of indigenous land in multiple ways, Sharidynn Denetchiley, student and organizer with the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, explained. “UNM gets a lot out of Tribal Scholarships from in-state and out of state, and [UNM] is gaining more and more financially, so these demands need to be met.”
Black, Chicano, LGBTQ, Indigenous, Palestinian, Asian, and other working-class people came together and united against a common enemy, colonialism and capitalism.
Former UNM instructor and community organizer Vernon Butler stressed, “You cannot have racism without oppression, and you cannot have oppression without capitalism!”
It was clear that UNM President Bob Frank doesn’t stand with his students against racism and couldn’t even listen to his own students when he fled his office for a “meeting” at the beginning of the speak-out. After the speak-out, protesters stormed the president’s office to deliver a list of demands and petition signatures in support of abolishing the racist seal.
When confronted, President Frank told students that he did not find the seal to be racist and fumbled when they continued to ask if the seal promotes genocide. The Red Nation organizer and PhD candidate Melanie Yazzie declared: “Bob Frank you have blood on your hands! We are going to keep holding this university accountable until it concedes to our demands!”
When asked why the seal should be abolished, activists asserted:
“It [the seal] should be abolished and removed,” said Robin Minthorn, UNM faculty. “It is racist and hurtful to Indigenous students and community,”
Student Renata Yazzie explained, “It is a slap in the face and inherently racist,”
Student Kory Klee elaborated: “The seal’s colonial imagery is a continuation of the ignorance in our education system. Its colonial ideas continue the romanticizing of a genocide of indigenous people.”
“It [the seal] is representative of a harsh period of colonial imperialist conquest of the original people,” said Shiloh Tso, community member.