Slow UM Seal Redesign Fails Students and Indigenous Communities – Marquette Wire
He was more than a year since the Native American Student Association asked Marquette University to improve its support for Native students on campus and change the Marquette seal. The seal has not yet been changed.
Marquette must take faster action to have the university’s seal changed, as it severely distorts the interactions between Father Marquette and the Indigenous peoples in the territory and may isolate Indigenous members of the Marquette community.
The lower half of the current seal has a crop picture from the 1869 painting by artist Wilhelm Alfred Lamphrect entitled “Father Marquette and the Indians”. In the original painting, Father Marquette talks with a group of Native Americans who guide him on his journey. However, in the cropped image on the seal, Father Marquette appears to be the one guiding the Native American individual, as he is turned away from view.
In addition, part of the Marquette community claimed that this cropped image perpetuates colonialism, white supremacy and Indigenous subjugation.
The Marquette seal has been disputed among students and faculty for 2014, but a recent high-profile call to change the seal has begun July 2020 when a Marquette student started a petition to change the seal and October 2020 when Marquette’s Native American Student Association submitted a list of demands to the university. In response to the Native American Student Association’s request to change the seal, Marquette announced that she was forming a committee to redesign the seal. March 2021.
The next seal update was last august who said the committee would “continue its work this fall to ensure that the seal represents the Catholic and Jesuit mission of Marquette and acknowledges the influence of Indigenous peoples on our history. continue its work on the design of the seal.
Bryan Rindfleisch, an associate professor of history and a member of the research team for the seal redesign, said a seal redesign proposal was shared at the December 10 board meeting, but had been rejected.
As far as Rindfleisch is aware, the redesign of the seal is still in progress.
There doesn’t seem to be much urgency on the part of the university to get the seal redesigned.
The university seal not only harms members of indigenous communities, but also harms people who are not part of indigenous communities. The seal of the university is everywhere – buildings, flags, accessories, diplomas. By continuing to print and endorse this seal, Marquette shows that he supports what the seal stands for.
This is unacceptable.
Changing the university’s seal is important because it is a concrete step the university can take to show that it supports Indigenous people on campus and in surrounding communities. Members of indigenous communities tell the university that changing the seal is important to them and therefore it is essential to make faster efforts to change it.
As of the fall 2021 semester, there are only 13 undergraduate students, six graduate students, and nine faculty and staff who identify as Native American, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. Native Americans are one of the least represented groups on campus.
Representation matters. Especially with such a small population of Native Americans in Marquette. Improving representation can start with something as simple as changing the seal.
The university recently share it had adopted a lands and waters acknowledgment to acknowledge that Marquette is on the traditional and ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples and nations, including the Menominee, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Ho Chunk, Fox, Sauk and Mascouten.
This is a positive step towards creating a more inclusive environment for Indigenous peoples as well as recognizing the history of genocide and displacement of Native Americans during colonization. The same efforts should be made to change the seal.
By recognizing that the cropped image of Father Marquette and the Native American grossly distorts their interactions, and by devoting more time and resources to expediting the process of redesigning the seal, Marquette can follow through on his verbal commitments and his words through tangible actions.
Indigenous students have been asking Marquette to change the university’s seal for years. Marquette was aware of the problems. There is no excuse for the delay. Marquette needs to speed up the process and change the seal. Enough is enough.
Editorial topics for the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings among the members of the executive board. The editorial is designed with the leadership of the opinion editor. The board consists of the executive director of the Wire, the editor of the Marquette Tribune, the editor of the Marquette Journal, the managing director of MUTV, the managing director of MUR and ten other editors of the organization.