- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico’s largest university is considering revising its half-century old seal amid concerns by Native American students who say it represents the frontier’s violent era.

Unlike other moves to change logos and names of buildings, the effort to drop the seal is drawing resistance from another minority groups - Hispanics.

Native American student groups want the University of New Mexico to scrap the seal that depicts a rifle-toting frontiersman and a sword-carrying Spanish conquistador.

Ralph Arellanes, chair of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, said he favors a change but removing the conquistador would be unacceptable since it represents the state’s Hispanic heritage.

The debate is pitting some community members against each other as university officials try to recruit more Latino and Native American students to attend the campus.

For months, the Native American students groups Kiva Club and Red Nation have been pressuring the university to drop the seal.

Nick Estes, an American Studies doctoral student and a member of Red Nation, said its images are a “celebration of conquest and colonialism” and have no place on a modern campus.

“This is not about revising the seal. It’s about getting the seal abolished,” Estes said. “It’s racist.”

Arellanes said he favored revising the seal to be more inclusive.

“Maybe if we take the sword away or put the conquistador on a horse, that would be OK,” Arellanes said.

University president Bob Frank said he and his staff have begun discussing the possibility of creating a new seal.

One proposal would add a Native American to the seal with an unarmed frontiersman and conquistador, he said. The Native American would have his hands in the air as if praying.

The university’s Board of Regents would have to approve any changes.

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .

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