University of New Mexico to Replace ‘Racist’ Conquistador on Official Seal

The Associated Press
Morgan Lee/AP

The University of New Mexico announced this week that it is replacing the university’s “Conquistador” official seal in response to a protest effort by a group of student activists that called it “racist.”

According to a report by Campus Reform, the University of Mexico announced this week that it is trashing their official university seal in favor of an alternative that is more “diverse” and “inclusive.”

The effort to change the university seal dates back to 2016 when student activists forced the University of New Mexico Board of Regents to reconsider the seal. However, a referendum in November 2016 by the Board of Regents failed to receive enough votes to remove the seal. The board did, however, approve funding for the formation of a committee that would research possible alternatives to the “Conquistador” seal.

“The seal at The University of New Mexico will remain the same – for now.  The UNM Board of Regents’ voted unanimously today to approve two of six recommendations to abolish the university seal, but stopped short of approving a complete change by removing the existing figures, a Spanish conquistador and a frontiersman, and replacing them with something more inclusive, aspirational, honoring diversity and/or defining of an institution of higher learning,” the university wrote in a press release at the time.

The university noted at the time that students felt that the seal glorified violence against Native Americans. “The official seal came under intense scrutiny earlier this year after Native American students, including members of the UNM Kiva Club, and The Red Nation, an off-campus Native American advocacy group, said the current seal is offensive in glorifying the violent treatment of natives. UNM has one of the highest populations of Native American students in the U.S.,” the press release continued.

At the beginning of October, the University of New Mexico announced in a press release that it would accept submissions for a new seal. The press release encourages designers to reflect the university’s relationship to Native American tribes in the new seal.

“Founded in 1889, UNM sits on the tradition homelands of the Sandia Pueblo. The original peoples of New Mexico – Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache Tribes – have significant connections to the land,” the press release reads. “Being the state’s flagship institution and one of only a dozen Hispanic Serving Institutions in the United States, the UNM Seal Committee is seeking an original design that exemplifies the university’s past, present and future.”

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