University president calls for controversial murals to be covered
© University of New Mexico

Administrators at the University of New Mexico are proposing to cover four murals on the campus that have elicited concern among Native American faculty and student groups at the school.

President Garnett Stokes and Provost Richard Wood have made the proposal to the university's Regents Historic Preservation Committee, The Associated Press reported. 

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The four murals make up the "Three Peoples Murals" located inside the university's Zimmerman Library. 

One mural shows a white man holding the hands of a faceless Native American man and a faceless Hispanic man. The mural has bothered some faculty and students, who say it marginalizes Hispanics and Native Americans. 

Another mural in the series shows five Native Americans participating in activities such as weaving, and another shows Hispanics engaging in agriculture and architecture. The other mural shows white people looking through microscopes. 

Alex Lubin, an associate provost at the university, told the AP that dealing with the murals and responding to the concerns of students and faculty is "a process that's ongoing."

“They understand that tending to these issues are important today — maybe more important than ever," he added. 

The AP reported that campus community members have been protesting the murals for decades.

Robin Starr Minthorn, a Native American studies professor at the university, told the AP that the mural with the white man and the faceless Native American and Hispanic men "causes some psychological distress."

“You’re always having to walk by there, or you’re sitting in front of it, and you don’t see people representing you who have any facial expressions," Minthorn said.

The move to cover the murals isn't the first time the university has responded to concerns brought by Native American campus community members. The university last year stopped using an official university seal that included profiles of a frontiersman and conquistador, according to the AP.