American Indian Studies Department Solidarity Statement

American Indian Studies Department Solidarity Statement

May 6, 2024

As faculty of UCLA’s American Indian Studies Department, our utmost commitment is to the teaching and well-being of our students in the classroom, elsewhere on campus and in the world. The events of the past week on the UCLA campus have left us, our students, and staff with profound grief, trauma, and anger. In particular, the administration’s response to an overwhelmingly peaceful protest has been alarming. We, the undersigned faculty, champion the constitutional right for our students to peacefully protest without the fear of punishment or harm. We have an obligation to affirm the necessity of critical discourse, of academic dissent, and of academic freedom.

We are outraged by the acts of violence perpetrated on UCLA students, faculty and staff by a mob of instigators on April 30th. We are appalled by the violent forced removal and arrest of at least 200 UCLA students, faculty and staff on May 2 by multiple off-campus law enforcement agencies. We call on the UCLA administration to: (1) grant full legal, academic and disciplinary amnesty to all UCLA students expressing their constitutional right to peacefully protest; (2) provide financial assistance for costs associated with medical treatment for injuries; and (3) conduct a full investigation of the administration’s failure to protect our students and our campus from violence. We call upon the UCLA administration and Academic Senate to ensure transparency of future security measures taken in response to peaceful demonstrations, and to convene a truth commission to guide the necessary process of healing our community.

American Indian Studies has a long tradition of student, faculty and staff protest in its five decades of existence at UCLA. Our students have participated in and led protests against the treatment of American Indian and other Indigenous Peoples for decades; for example, UCLA American Indian students occupied Alcatraz to protest the treatment of American Indians in the early 1970s. Similarly, our students, faculty and staff have stood in solidarity with other groups, organizations and populations in their calls for peace, justice, and self-determination. The peaceful protests that we are seeing today are in keeping with this tradition. To mischaracterize those protests as “activism that harms our ability to carry out our academic mission” is egregious.

In this spirit, we reaffirm our commitment as AIS faculty to the value and necessity of peaceful protest in the face of humanitarian crises and systems of oppression. We decry the violence perpetuated on peacefully protesting students and ask the UCLA administration and Academic Senate to immediately address the calls for action outlined above. We stand ready to assist in these efforts to begin the process of healing our university and its students, faculty, and staff.




Randall Akee, Associate Professor and Chair

Erin Debenport, Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies

Paul V. Kroskrity, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies

Teresa L. McCarty, Distinguished Professor of Education and American Indian Studies and GF Kneller Chair in Education and Anthropology

Ananda Marin, Associate Professor of Education and American Indian Studies

Kyle T. Mays, Associate Professor, African American Studies

Nancy Marie Mithlo, Professor, Departments of Gender Studies and American Indian Studies

Shannon Speed, Paula Gunn Allen Chair and Professor of American Indian Studies, Gender Studies and Anthropology

Tria Blu Wakpa, Assistant Professor of Dance Studies, World Arts and Cultures/Dance