Occupy movement in New Mexico finds new name out of respect for Native Americans

Posted on: October 18th, 2011 by Nicolas Mendoza 13 Comments

Image by Matt MahurinIn response to concerns over the term “Occupy Albuquerque”, the protest movement has renamed itself “(Un)occupy Albuquerque.” The decision was made in a general assembly meeting of protesters at the University of New Mexico campus.

As the New Mexico Independent reported last week, some of the ’99 percenters’ objected to the association of the word ‘Occupy’ with what one Daily Kos contributor called “…five-hundred years of forced occupation of [Native American] lands, resources, cultures, power, and voices by the imperial powers of both Spain and the United States. A big chunk of the 99 percent has been served pretty well by that arrangement. A smaller chunk hasn’t.”

The ‘Occupy’ movement has emphasized its opposition to those in the top 1 percent of the country’s income distribution, as well as the financial sector, which in recent decades has drastically increased its share of the total national income.

But this emphasis has meant that many other societal tensions and grievances that have traditionally preoccupied left-wing and anti-establishment movements, such as those of the Native American community and other racial minorities, have not been a significant focus of the ’99 percenters.’

According to the U.S. Census, 4.8 percent of Bernalillo County and 9.4 percent of New Mexicans identify as American Indian. Most likely that underestimates the proportion of New Mexicans with some connection to the Native American community: 3.7 percent of New Mexicans are of more than one race, and 47.9 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, and both of those categories are likely to contain many people who are of at least some Native American descent.

Meanwhile, the ’99 percent’ movement continues to gain steam in Albuquerque, where five-hundred protesters marched outside of Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank branches on Saturday. The movement has been in Albuquerque for 3 weeks, but this weekend protesters also marched in Santa Fe, Taos, and Las Cruces, according to KRQE.

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