March 31, 2016

Students protest UNM seal

Protesters: Native American-made seal not native enough

  • The students are accusing the school of racism because the seal shows a frontiersman and a conquistador, but not a Native American.

  • The seal was designed by Theda Douglas Rushing, a Native American.

  • By Anthony Gockowski
    Students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) are protesting their school’s official seal because of its implicit discrimination against Native Americans even though the seal itself was created by a Native American artist.

    UNM’s student activists are accusing the school of racism because the seal depicts a frontiersman standing alongside a conquistador but fails to portray their historical counterpart—indigenous people.
    And:“The UNM [official seal] celebrates genocide and conquest—both are violations of basic human rights and belong in a museum of a bygone era,” said Nick Estes. “It’s 2016 and UNM is still celebrating crimes against humanity—colonialism and genocide—and Natives are still underrepresented at all levels at the University.”

    However, UNM awarded Native American artist Theda Douglas Rushing a Meritorious Service Medal in 1994 for her outstanding contributions to the school, among which was the creation of the school’s now discriminatory seal.


    A Facebook discussion of this key point: Students protest a UNM seal that shows a frontiersman and a conquistador, even though a Native woman designed it.

    I wonder if she was given free rein or a strict mandate. Kind of hard to believe someone thought a frontiersman and a conquistador were great ideas in the 21st century.

    Apparently the redesign was back in 1980. I can understand that some people, including Natives, might not have thought about the problems much back then.

    But I'm surprised it hasn't been protested out of existence since then. A frontiersman and a conquistador don't have anything to do with education. If anything, they're anti-education.

    The message is nothing but, "Europeans founded this state and school. Europeans made us great." How is that not glaringly obvious to everyone--not to mention embarrassing?

    They're even holding a gun and a sword. It's a pure conquest message--with Indians and their land as the implied booty. There's no educational message whatsoever.Yes. All that's missing is an equally in your face motto. "We exist because these guys spilled blood."Oddly, their school motto is "Lux Hominum Vita (Life, the Light of Men)." I guess because "Veni, Vidi, Vici" was taken?

    For more on government seals, see Whitesboro Issue Increases Awareness and Flipping the Whitesboro Script.

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