Education | National

University president doesn't see seal that excludes Native people as racist

University of New Mexico students burn copies of the school's seal during a protest on campus on April 29, 2016. Photo from The Red Nation / Twitter

Native American students and their allies confronted University of New Mexico President Bob Frank about the institution's official seal on Friday.

The symbol features a Spanish conquistador with a sword and a European settler with a gun. A Latin phrase written at the feet of the two figures translates to "light the life of man."

Missing is any sort of acknowledgement of the Native people who have lived in New Mexico for tens of thousands of years and their role in state society. Native students say the symbol shows how their ancestors have been systematically erased from history.

“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," student Kory Klee told Liberation News.

But Frank apparently doesn't see the exclusion as problematic. When asked by students whether he thinks the symbol is racist, he had a simple reply.

"I don't," Frank said, according to video of the encounter that was posted by Kodee Artis on Facebook

Frank said he was open to listening to concerns about the seal. But he told the students that won't take the issue to the UNM board of regents -- which has the power to make changes -- until he hears from the greater community.

Get the Story:
Protest against UNM seal gains steam (The Daily Lobo 5/2)
Protesters confront UNM leader over seal (The Albuquerque Journal 5/1)
Activists speak out against racist seal, university president stands with racism (Liberation News 4/29)

Related Stories:
Jennifer Denetdale: University must stop celebrating genocide (4/27)
Nick Estes: Abolish university's symbol of racism and colonialism (4/22)

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