We are responding to your editorial questioning the decision of the elected leaders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association to hold our annual meeting as scheduled in Tucson later this month in the face of the new immigration legislation signed into Arizona law April 23. We want to say first that we wish you had taken into account publicly announced changes to our program, which were sent out to our members and posted to our Web site May 6, before you published your editorial. We invite Indian Country Today readers who want more information to find it at http://naisa.org/.
It is important to point out that our local hosts at the University of Arizona asked us clearly to keep our meeting in Tucson in the face of these new laws. Further, key leaders of local and regional organizations who are actively opposing the law have sent us a letter welcoming groups like ours to hold meetings in Arizona. Signers of that letter include leaders of Derechos Humanos, The Indigenous Alliance Across Borders, the Tierra Y Libertad Organization, faculty and advisory board members of the Mexican American Studies Program of the Tucson Unified School District, and dozens of others. Many of the changes we have made to our program came from suggestions in that letter. Signers of the letter are now working with us in planning events at our meeting.
Some of our members have disagreed with our decision to hold our meeting in Tucson, and some of them have withdrawn. We respect their stance. We also respect the many people who are still planning to attend, including indigenous scholars from Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, Mexico and more. Many have indicated that they will use their presence in Arizona to protest the law. We welcome them to do so, and we welcome your readers to learn more about NAISA at http://naisa.org/.
-Robert Warrior (Osage)
-Jean O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe)
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association