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NMSU professors to hold forum on “decolonizing education”

A criminal justice professor and an anthropology professor at New Mexico State University will host a series of public forums on “decolonizing education” and promoting ethnic studies in the NMSU and Las Cruces communities.

Pencil drawing of eagle and condor
New Mexico State University faculty will join with indigenous education advocates on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and Thursday, Feb. 22 for a forum and discussion on what it takes to decolonize educational systems. (Courtesy graphic)

The first forum, “Decolonizing Education,” will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20 in NMSU’s O’Donnell Hall, Room 300. This will be preceded by a “ceremony of intention” to call for the decolonization of education, held in front of Corbett Center at 3 p.m.

“The public is invited to help this dialogue of sharing indigenous ways of knowing and multicultural education as applied to contemporary education,” said Donald Pepion, a college professor of Native American studies in NMSU’s anthropology department.

At the forum, Bacilio Zea Sánchez, a Quechua intellectual educator from Peru, will share experiences educating indigenous and non-indigenous people and will facilitate the public discussion. Sánchez is on a 10-day trip to the southwestern United States.

The forum is co-sponsored by El Paso’s Kalpulli Tlalteca, a Mesoamerican indigenous organization.

“Indigenous people and educators around the world are discussing the significance of decolonization,” Pepion said. “We need to examine the effects of colonization on indigenous people and reconstruct our knowledge and learning systems. It is about including the truth and experiences of Indigenous knowledge in our educational systems.”

Carlos Aceves, a local bilingual educator, will join the discussion.

“Both are dedicated to their communities as ceremonial leaders and caretakers of the well-being of future generations,” Pepion said. “The event invites the community and local Indigenous representatives to participate in an interactive discussion on what it takes to decolonize educational systems from early childhood learning to higher education.”

The forum was partly conceived of by Aceves, who met with Lucia Veronica Carmona, a Indigenous education advocate in Las Cruces, about establishing a charter school that uses indigenous knowledge in teaching and learning.

“Lucia works with the Native American Community Academy Inspired Schools Network in Albuquerque that strives to establish culturally relevant schools and educational leaders,” Pepion said. “Aceves is active with the Indigenous Cultures Institute that is dedicated to preservation and research of Indigenous culture in the southwest and Mexico.”

On Thursday, Feb. 22, Pepion will host a conversation with Sánchez and visitors titled “Indigenous Ways of Knowing” at 10:30 a.m. in the American Indian Student Center, Room 110.

That evening, Dulcinea Lara, NMSU associate professor in criminal justice, will facilitate a discussion with Sánchez at 5:30 p.m. in Breland Hall, Room 182 on “Ethnic Studies and Multicultural Education.” Lara is actively pursuing the development of ethnic studies courses at NMSU and the Las Cruces Public School District.

For more information contact Lucia Veronica Carmona at luciavcarmona@gmail.com, Claudia Montesinos at munayayllu@gmail.com, or Donald Pepion at dpepion@nmsu.edu.