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ASUNM resolves to replace holiday

Resolution 7S states that the move is actually in concordance with what the University stands for.

“This resolution is in farther accordance with UNM’s mission statement, which commits to ‘discover and disseminate new knowledge and creative endeavors that will enhance the overall well-being of society,’” the document states.

Resolution 7S had 18 organizational sponsors, and Sen. Kyle Stepp acknowledged their leadership in what he said is a potential game changer in recognizing diversity across the state and country.

“We have an opportunity to make history,” Stepp said. “We’re setting a standard for other student organizations to make change on their campus. We’re setting up a forefront and we’re leading it.”

Shawna Nelson, a senior education major and Navajo citizen, agreed with Sen. Stepp while assuring ASUNM that passing the resolution has the potential to set a precedent for future movements concerning indigenous populations and diversity in a broad sense.

“Your actions tonight aren’t going to be confined to this room,” she said.

Many students and organization representatives voiced their opinion on the resolution, including Leoyla Cowboy, a senior Native American studies and business double major and Navajo citizen, who said that the passing of the resolution would help her reclaim pride in her culture and heritage.

“For me, this resolution represents my life. Every day I fight, that’s what resistance means,” Cowboy said. “This is indigenous land, this is stolen land, this is pueblo land that the University is sitting on. We live amongst indigenous blood, it’s all around us.”

According to the resolution, various movements across the country have successfully appealed to abolish Columbus Day. Among them, the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota do no celebrate Columbus Day, and Minnesota shifted the focus of the holiday when they replaced it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, according to the document.

An amendment presented by Sen. Alex Cervantes proposed that the new holiday be changed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, removing the terms of resilience and resistance to be more inclusive of all indigenous peoples, but it failed with a vote of 9-10-0. The vote was met with widespread applause and praise from the gallery.

Nick Estes, an American studies graduate student, said it was a relief to see UNM take a step toward recognizing its indigenous students as part of a process that has endured much longer than people realize.

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“The students spent a lot of time, a lot of research in writing this legislation. Historically, UNM has never had a resolution like this before. In a campus and city that prides itself as a cultural capital of indigenous peoples, yet there is no recognition of that...this is sticking a claim on history and how to represent it,” he said.

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.


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