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University president, provost urge that campus murals be covered up

One mural depicts white man holding hands with two faceless Mexican and Native American men

Officials at the University of Mexico are urging that several murals in the school’s library be covered up due to one of the murals’ alleged marginalization of ethnic minorities.

The mural depicts “a blond, blue-eyed man…his arms stretched out holding the hand of a faceless Hispanic man on one side and a faceless Native American on the other,” NBC News reports.

The mural, which according to NBC dates from the Great Depression, has “irked numerous faculty members and students” for years. They claim that it “marginalizes the state’s two largest minority groups.” Three other murals in the library round out the series, titled “Three Peoples.”

Now, as part of a “campus dialogue” regarding the murals, the university’s president and provost have declared that all four should be covered:

If approved, it would mark the latest change made by the university in response to concerns raised by Native American faculty and student groups over symbolism, art and celebrations on campus.

“This is a process that’s ongoing,” [Associate Provost for Faculty Development Alex] Lubin said. “They understand that tending to these issues are important today — maybe more important than ever.”

Lubin was tasked recently with convening a task force on how to address decades-old concerns over the murals by Kenneth Adams, the artist who had lived in Taos. There also have been student groups — including the Kiva Club, which represents Native American students — that have expressed their opposition to the murals, following decades of protests against them.

“It causes some psychological distress,” said Robin Starr Minthorn, a Native American studies professor who is Kiowa. “You’re always having to walk by there, or you’re sitting in front of it, and you don’t see people representing you who have any facial expressions.”

“Last year, administrators suspended use of an official University of New Mexico seal that had been etched with the profiles of a frontiersman and conquistador — two groups viewed as having a part in the historical mistreatment of Native Americans in the state,” NBC reports.

Read the report here.

MORE: ‘Dismantle whiteness’ mural installed at university

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