The ongoing campaign to abolish the University of New Mexico's official seal accuses it of neglecting indigenous students of New Mexico in the display, but Native Americans students themselves feel neglected as a result of the campaign.
Eric DeLorme, a senior majoring in Chicana/ Chicano Studies, said he does not believe every Native American student’s view is represented with the movement, and a majority of the students had no idea it even existed.
“I wish those involved in the campaign would have contacted all the Native American students at UNM letting all of us know what his requests were and information about the campaign so we could put in our opinions,” he said.
Lacher Pacheco, a graduate student in the Language Literacy Sociocultural Studies (LLSS) program, said she is not against the campaign; rather, she is against the way it is being conducted.
“I do not agree with the approach,” she said. “Part of our culture is to be nice to everybody, to treat everyone with respect and to be kind and forgiving, to get an education and go back and help the indigenous people. That is what we are here for.“
DeLorme said the campaign's approach - led by The Red Nation and Kiva Club - was very strong and not in line with how Native American culture should be represented,
Pacheco said she would like to appeal to Kiva Club and Nick Estes, asking them to bring contention to the University.
“This group is trying to divide our campus, they have not looked at ways to unite the campus,” she said. “They have displayed what they do not like about the seal, how it’s racist, but they have not given an alternative solution to fix the problems they continuously are pointing out.”
Another issue with the campaign, according to many Native Americans students who oppose it, is that it doesn't provide a solution to the problem. While the Kiva Club explained what the seal represents in their eyes, Pacheco says they haven't given input on what an alternative seal should depict.
“We need to figure out how we are going to unify our campus, how we are going to heal from colonization, the loss of our cultures and languages.hat is my question [for Kiva Club]: how are we going to overcome this situation?” she said. "UNM should ask the community more, what our actual honest opinion is and how them come up with a seal that the students will approve. Have students come up with a seal that everyone would approve on and have students back with demands [Kiva Club] is trying to initiate.”
Pacheco offered a solution herself. UNM should reach out to the community and ask for their opinion for a seal that they and everyone else approves of. Administration recently attempted an e-mail survey trying to do just that, but suspended the survey due to technical concerns.
DeLorme said UNM should find a way to get every student’s opinion on the matter.
“All groups deserve to be heard, give their opinions and agree on the next step," he said.
All five Native American Studies (NAS) rogram faculty members have written an open letter to University President Bob Frank, the Board of Regents and the UNM community explaining the hard work that both Kiva Club and The Red Nation have put into their campaign, and declaring that the entire NAS program is supporting the movement.
The University is now getting more involved to see all students opinion on changing the seal.
Waylon Ballew, a senior Native American Studies major, said he also does not agree with the campaign’s approach, but acknowledged that change is needed. He said the seal has been updated multiple times since it was created, and it could be time to update it again.
“We are in a time where people are actually questioning what our generation's needs are," he said. "it is something that needed to happen, but everyone is still learning how to communicate efficiently to get everyone’s view across."
Denicia Aragon is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @DailyLobo.
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