Carrying signs that announced “decolonizing is healing” and “white supremacy = terrorism” advocates marched up College Drive Saturday.
About 40 Fort Lewis College students and community members attended the Durango Decolonize March and Roll to spread awareness about the historical and ongoing effects of colonization on indigenous people.
“Both sides need to realize that colonization happened and work together to create something better,” Fort Lewis student Ruthie Edd said.
The students were inspired to hold the event, in part, because the site of Fort Lewis was home to a boarding school near the turn of the century, said Amber Gillis and Katherine Montoya. At the school, children from regional tribes were trained to accept American culture.
Many of the students were also part of an Introduction to Sociology class taught by Anthony Nocella. He hopes organizing these kinds of events will help them learn to put theories into practice.
“I hope they will be empowered with more tools in their toolbox for social justice,” he said.
The students had a range of ideas on what a decolonized society would look like and what could be done to encourage change.
Edd would like to see the history of local Native American and Hispanic people taught in elementary schools, not just the history of miners.
At Fort Lewis, hiring a professor that could teach Navajo and allowing the students to wear their traditional clothing instead of their robes at graduation could be good steps, Montoya said.
Others would like to see justice for missing and murdered indigenous women.
This was recently highlighted by a police shooting in Winslow, Arizona, said FLC student Lyle Barber.
On March 27, a police officer shot Loreal Tsingine, a Navajo woman, five times, according to The Arizona Republic. She was suspected of shoplifting a case of beer, and when an officer tried to arrest her, she fought back while brandishing scissors.
Police should be trained in de-escalation tactics or use stun guns instead of deadly force, Barber said.
“It doesn’t always have to be resolved with a gun,” he said.
The high rate of violence against Native women is a problem that’s been documented by Amnesty International and the U.S. Justice Department.
“Indigenous peoples in the USA face deeply entrenched marginalization – the result of a long history of systemic and pervasive abuse and persecution,” according to Amnesty International.