ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Some students at the University of New Mexico want the university to throw out the school’s official seal.
They said it’s racist and hurtful to Native Americans and now they’re passing around a flyer with a doctored seal to make their point.
The university said the seal isn’t used for marketing purposes. It’s used mostly during graduation and for official matters only. It’s the university seal that’s been around since 1969.
The university has had two other similar seals before it. Because it’s mainly stamped on diplomas and other graduation papers, it has some students concerned.
“This is the stamp that legitimizes it all,” sophomore Jennifer Marley said. “For people who don’t understand why the seal is offensive, it’s the depiction of a conquistador and a frontiersman and the celebration of deep colonial violence.”
Marley is a member of The Red Nation. It’s a Native American led activist coalition that was established in 2014 and is based in Albuquerque and Gallup.
Many of its members attend UNM, including its founder, Nick Estes.
Estes is the person who tweaked the seal so the conquistador is now atop a mountain of skeletal remains, with the caption “What Indians?” The group made flyers and passed them out to students during the Indigenous Book Festival.
The group said the flyer is meant to be a bold statement, and people on campus agree.
“Sometimes you have to shock people in order to get them to realize how offensive something can be perceived,” Michael Wray said.
Estes said that’s the group’s mission and they won’t give up. The group has already had conversations with UNM’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.
However, according to UNM policy, the seal can’t be changed unless the group goes through the board of regents. The university said it hasn’t received any official requests to ditch the seal.