In celebration of November as Native American Heritage Month, the University Museum at New Mexico State University will host a symposium bringing together Indigenous water protectors to share their perspectives and their work protecting water in a growing international water crisis.
The events surrounding ‘Indigenous Symposium: Water Protection,’ will be held Nov.14-15 and will give an opportunity for the indigenous leaders to share stories and solutions to protect water resources. All events are free and open to the public. They are also bilingual.
The symposium will feature Jose Gomez, a Maya Mam Indigenous Water Defender from Guatemala currently on tour in the western United States to meet with other indigenous leaders and activists fighting to protect their waters.
“As Indigenous people, creating international links with communities from other countries strengthens our struggle for the protection and stewardship of our common resources,” Gómez said. “Solidarity helps us acquire information about, and intervene in, the capitalist system’s plans against our people.”
Gómez is also the co-coordinator of the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET) which is a coalition of Indigenous communities in Guatemala’s rural Ixcán region that has used grassroots organizing to halt construction on the Xalalá project – a mega-dam that, if built, would flood multiple communities and have a devastating impact on life in the region.
The opening ceremony will be held on Wednesday Nov, 14th from 9-10 a.m. outdoors near the Corbett Center and will feature NMSU anthropology professor Don Pepion and the Piro Dancers. That evening, Gómez will give a presentation from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Branigan Cultural Center.
Multiple events are scheduled for Thursday, November 15. The first is an unveiling of the Water Protector Mural at 4:00 p.m. with Barricade Culture Shop and Murals of Las Cruces at 1305 East University Avenue.
The Indigenous Water Protector Panel will follow from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the College of Health and Social Services Auditorium, Room 101A. This event features six Indigenous water protectors who will discuss their work and experiences.
The celebration will continue at the University Museum with the ‘Water is Life Celebration’ from 7-9 p.m. with music, dance, Indian tacos and more. It will feature performances by the dance group Danza Omecoatl, Artson, Native American Music Award winner, and a local band Papayas con Chile
There will also be a silent auction of art by Ome, Francella, and Saba, with proceeds benefitting ACODET, as well as two Indigenous art installations on view in the museum: ‘Pictograff: The Art of War Prayer’ and ‘Live Long and Prosper: Sci-fi Images in Contemporary Indigenous Art.”
Author: Victoria Balderrama – NMSU