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Dear SDSU community,

We are excited to share that our community has begun an additional process as part of our ongoing efforts to honor our Aztec identity and to enhance education and recognition.

These next steps, driven by our Aztec Identity Education Committee, are aligned with the earlier recommendations and suggestions of the 2018 Aztec Identity Task Force, which announced that the university would continue the usage of the Aztec moniker and develop additional visuals aligned with its Aztec identity.

New Aztec Iconography to be Developed

With plans to engage faculty, staff, students, alumni representatives and members of our Native and Indigenous communities over a year-long process, work is now underway to develop recommendations for new "iconography," or images — such as artwork, symbols and other visual elements — that will amplify and align with our university’s Aztec identity.

 
 
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Aligned with SDSU’s shared governance practice, recommendations will be submitted to members of both the Aztec Identity Education Committee and the Aztec Governing Authority. Other university committees will also be involved in this process, and both input and feedback will be secured from students, faculty, staff and alumni. Together, these committees will be responsible for reviewing and recommending any new iconography.

Our Past, Our Future

We are the Aztecs. We look forward to identifying additional icons and images from across Aztec and Indigenous histories that celebrate our Aztec name, Indigenous culture, and history. This process builds upon earlier actions in the 2018 report, including the retirement of pre-2018 references to the Aztec Warrior as a mascot. As a result, since the 2018 season, SDSU has been effectively a university without a mascot. We are also now retiring the Aztec spirit leader, and are retiring warrior-related imagery related to the human representation. The additional Aztec iconography developed and embraced across the coming years will instead allow us to further honor our Aztec identity, and enhance education and recognition.

This progress is not happening in isolation, and in fact is part of a long history of actions and commitments these past three years. Since the 2018 Aztec Identity decision, our university has:

  • Established a Native Resource Center

  • Hired a tribal liaison to foster collaborative partnerships; Jacob Alvarado Waipuk is the first Tribal Liaison in SDSU’s 125 year history

  • Created and launched a formal Kumeyaay land acknowledgement, which is both physically in locations across campus and incorporated into all University Senate meetings and other major university events

  • Enhanced Kumeyaay education and recognition

  • Established new courses on Kumeyaay and Nahuatl, which expands the university’s offerings on existing Indigenous language courses and programs

  • Established new Indigenous Employee Resource Groups

  • Established the Native and Indigenous Healing Garden, which is a collaborative space that recognizes the unique and shared knowledge of whole body healing through nature

  • Completed a student-designed and created mural of Nahua, Kumeyaay, and Mixtec symbolism that overlooks the Healing Garden

  • Worked with Associated Students to create educational definitions and phonetic pronunciations of Nahuatl named rooms and buildings

  • Continued to implement multiple strategies and initiatives to promote the recruitment, retention, well-being, and success of Indigenous students, faculty, staff and alumni

So much has been accomplished, and much more is to come. We look forward to this opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the Aztecs and to ensure that any evocation of both the Aztecs and the Kumeyaay community — in how we speak, in the ways that we teach, and the visuals we use — are both respectful and authentic.

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President

J. Luke Wood, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity

Ramona L. Pérez, Ph.D.
Chair of the Aztec Governing Authority

 
 

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