Native American students attending San Diego State University are seeking to change the school’s mascot and replace it with a culturally appropriate symbol. According to a report by Allyson Myers of student newspaper the Daily Aztec, the Native American Student Alliance hosted a discussion in February about the current mascot, an Aztec warrior, which they feel represents a painful period of California history.
The meeting was attended by approximately 40 students and faculty members who watched a presentation about the Spanish colonial period of San Diego, during which more than 100,000 Native Americans perished in a genocide carried out by the conquistadors. After the presentation, those in attendance were reminded of the 2005 policy implemented by the National Collegiate Athletic Association with regard to mascots used in college athletics and tournaments. In essence, universities are prohibited from choosing mascots that can be considered hostile or abusive in terms of ethnicity or national origin.
The Spanish Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá was the first established in California. The students feel that the violence perpetrated against Native Americans by the Spanish missionaries is not something that should be honored or remembered with a college mascot. The Spanish colonial history of San Diego is already remembered by the architectural style of the campus.
Furthermore, the students explained that SDSU does not sit on Aztec land. The mascot is more suitable for Mexican universities because the Aztecs are not Native Americans. The SDSU campus was actually built on land that once belonged to the Kumeyaay people; this tribe has been in San Diego for more than 10,000 years.
Days after the meeting, the students presented an official statement to the university’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Outreach. At this time, no alternative mascots have been proposed.
Categories: Native American, Native American Students