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Marquette considers redoing seal accused of favoring white explorer over Native American guide

University silent when asked about hiring an artist to redo the seal

Marquette University is reportedly considering a redo of the school seal, which some student activists have accused of distorting how Native Americans helped Father Jacques Marquette navigate during his explorations of the country. 

The university is named for Marquette.

The Native American Student Association at the Catholic university in Milwaukee want the school to update the seal to give more credit to the Native Americans who assisted the priest in his travels.

There is currently a committee who is working on hiring a native artist to completely re-do that part of the seal,” Amanda Harris, a student activist who circulated a petition in July, told The College Fix via email recently.

Harris started the petition in early July. It asks the Catholic university’s board of trustees in Milwaukee to change the university’s seal, which depicts Father Jacques Marquette and a Native American guide navigating on the water. The activists argue that the painting cuts off a Native American directing Marquette where to travel and makes it look instead like the priest is in charge.

However, Harris did not have any more details on the committee. “Updates and a potential date for that painting to be released have not been revealed yet,” Harris said.

She directed further questions to Alex Liberato, the president of the Native American student group. Liberato did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment from The Fix in the past week. A previously listed club email no longer works.

The Fix attempted to reach the student association through its Facebook page, but the group’s former president said Liberato had not accepted an invitation to take over the social media account.

The club did not respond to an Instagram message on Wednesday morning seeking comment.

Members of the Native American club held a march on October 12, seeking a number of demands from the university, including redoing the seal. (Some Native Americans celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 12, in opposition to Christopher Columbus Day).

Harris told The Fix that student activists were able to meet with a representative of the administration after the protest.

“We were unable to get the President or Provost down to speak with us,” Harris said via email, but added that an administration member did meet with them.

“John Su, vice provost for academic affairs, was present at the demonstration, but President Michael Lovell and Provost Kimo Ah Yun were not,” campus paper the Marquette Wire reported.

The university’s media relations office did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment, including a voicemail left for media relations staffer Christopher Stolarski.

A media relations office staff member at the office of directed The Fix to resend an email previously sent to Stolarski last week, but he never called back The Fix with comment.

The Fix had asked if the school had any plans to change the seal and if they plan on meeting with students to address the concerns presented. 

The Fix also emailed Lynn Griffith, the senior director of communications, and Kevin Conway, the associate director of communications, on Wednesday morning. An automatic response from Griffith said she was on maternity leave and directed inquiries toward Conway.

Conway did not respond to a second emailed request for comment on Thursday.

The school also did not respond in July to requests for comment from The Fix but said at the time it was reviewing the request, according to the Marquette Wire      

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IMAGES: Wikimedia Commons

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