|Riley, Choctaw, with Louise Benally, Navajo.|
Ethnic Studies march and rally: In the spirit of survival and excellence!
By Brenda Norrell
TUCSON -- Marching and rallying to save the ethnic studies program in Tucson Unified Schools on Tuesday night, students spoke out on the empowerment of those classes and the belief in themselves that ethnic studies instilled in them.
Louise Benally, Navajo from Big Mountain, reflecting on a mural of Apache warriors in Tucson said, "It reminded me of the warriors that were resisting imperialism, this is part of that and it continues today." Benally remembered the migrants who are suffering.
Benally thought of the ancestors who roamed these lands, and the people who come here today, and how they suffer. She remembered the O'odham who are intimidated and assaulted as they cross the so-called border in their own lands.
"They are denying people their own cultures throughout the world. America should respect other cultures. Why are they outlawing all the different cultures of the world? Why is Arizona so fixated on oppressing cultures of people?"
Benally said education must include ethnic studies which includes the knowledge of land, life and cultures. "It all relates to the natural environment. The important things of life are the air, water, earth, the environment and life. They are all interconnected to make life happen."
She said things become out of balance when the importance of the clean air, clean water, the earth and life are not respected and acknowledged.
UPDATE: As the rally in support of ethnic studies was held tonight in Tucson, Tucson Unified Schools District board voted 4 to 1 to comply with the state of Arizona which has outlawed ethnic studies.