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American Indian Studies prof ponders ‘taking back stolen Native land’

An American Indian Studies professor addressed a forum at San Diego State University last week in which she discussed yet another popular academic buzzword: “decolonization.”

Humboldt State University’s Cutcha Risling Baldy examined ways to reclaim the land stolen by the European settlers (or “colonizers”) since the age European exploration. As reported by The Daily Aztec, she began with the following analogy:

Let’s say you have a computer, and your roommate’s friend shows up and steals your computer from you. And then periodically comes back to your house to use it in front of you. So, now your (roommate’s) friend comes up to you and says, “Listen I get that this is your computer, but I’ve been using it for a while and I put a lot of files in it and I put stickers all over the back so I feel attached to this computer and now you want it back?.”

That doesn’t seem fair.

Baldy recommended making use of one’s “radical imagination” to devise ways to reclaim Native properties.

“Radical imagination asks people to imagine beyond ‘its not my fault’ to ‘what can I do’,” she said, but did not elaborate beyond recommending making donations to Native groups who support decolonization efforts.

The professor also addressed the controversy over SDSU’s mascot, the Aztec, claiming “scientific studies” show such figures (negatively) affect the self esteem of Native children. “If I have to hear all the time people say, ‘It’s just a mascot’ I’m like, ‘Ditto, man!’ Get rid of it! It’s just a mascot,” she said.

However, the Aztec mascot remains popular at SDSU despite efforts to abolish it, and ironically, one reason to ditch it never seems to be considered: The Aztecs were incredibly brutal and bloodthirsty.

It probably comes as little surprise that Professor Baldy’s research focuses on “Indigenous feminisms, California Indians, and decolonization,” and that her PhD in Native American Studies has a “Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research.”

Baldy has a new book coming out which, according to her bio page, looks at the “revitalization of women’s coming of age ceremonies as a decolonizing praxis that (re)writes, (re)rights and (re)rites Indigenous epistemologies of gender and demonstrates how these ceremonies support self-determination.”

Just consult your postmodernist decoder ring to figure out what the heck that means.

Read the full Daily Aztec article.

MORE: Student gov. rejects political correctness, votes to keep Aztec mascot

MORE: SDSU to neuter Aztec warrior mascot into passive ‘Spirit Leader’

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.