Simon Ortiz: Shocked at banning of Native books in Arizona

Photo: Ethnic Studies students march in honor of Martin Luther King today, Monday, in Tucson, protesting the decision by Tucson schools to forbid Mexican American Studies and ban books by Chicano and Native American authors. Photo Brenda Norrell

Update: Video interviews with students in the forbidden classes, during today’s Martin Luther King Day rally in Tucson:

TUCSON — Simon Ortiz, world acclaimed poet, author and professor, responded to the banning of books by Chicano and Native American authors. Tucson schools seized the books from students in their classrooms after the board voted to forbid Mexican American Studies on Tuesday.


The Tucson Unified School District board voted to succumb to the state of Arizona’s threat to extract millions of dollars if the classes continued. Students said it was as if they were in Nazi Germany when the textbooks were seized from their classrooms. Crying, students said they were unable to sleep after the books were seized, including a book of photos of Mexico.

Simon Ortiz said, “I am very stunned and very shocked and very pissed off the Tucson Unified School District would ban Mexican American Studies and books like Rethinking Columbus: The Next Five Hundred Years that includes works by Indigenous (Native) authors Leslie Marmon Silko, N. Scott Momaday, Winona LaDuke, Buffy St. Marie, Joy Harjo, Wendy Rose, Joseph Bruchac, Jimmie Durham, Peter Blue Cloud, Luther Standing Bear, Gail Trembly, Jose Barreiro, Phillip Martin, Suzanne Shown Harjo. The banning explicitly and pointedly shows it is not only Mexican American Studies and people and so-called illegal immigrants that are targeted but Indigenous studies and people as a whole”
Simon J. Ortiz, Regents Professor, ASU Department of English; American Indian Studies

Updates at:

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