While visiting San Diego State University, Humboldt State University American Studies professor Cutcha Risling Baldy discussed supporting “decolonization” efforts by Native American groups. Humboldt State University is located in northern California, much closer to the Oregon-California border than the Bay Area.
She compared it to a roommate taking your laptop computer for personal use, without your permission:
“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?.”
Baldy then dove into the issues surrounding her host university’s mascot, the Aztec. Activists have pushed for the mascot to be removed and changed, and Baldy agreed with those activists. She said that the Aztec mascot is “just a mascot” and was confused why there is so much support for the current mascot. Baldy said studies showed that Native American mascots impacted Native American children in a negative fashion, “We have done scientific studies. We have done outreach to communities. We have shown where there were actual impacts on Native youth and the way that it’s tied to self-esteem and ability to perform in schools.”
Interestingly enough, in her push for decolonization (or Native Americans seizing land back from American governance), she said small governments could be the solution. Baldy believed that having smaller governments in charge of large swaths of land will allow people to “actually pass laws that actually protect these spaces from things like fracking, mining and over-harvesting.”
Yet, Baldy did not endorse a specific decolonization tactic and called on the audience to use their “radical imagination” to come up with viable solutions. She added that there must be more community awareness of the troubles that Native Americans have in today’s society and encouraged the audience to donate to Native American organizations which want to decolonize America.