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FRONTERAS: Latino Dropout Success - Totem Pole Reparations - Amado Muro

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT


This week on Fronteras: 

  •  Across the U.S., the Latino high school dropout rate is lower than it’s ever been.
  •  Reparations and restoration of a stolen totem pole located at the University of New Mexico.
  •  Cultural appropriation or appreciation?  The story behind the writings of Amado Muro.



Latino High School Dropout Rate Lowest Ever

The number of Latinos dropping out of high school nationwide is lower than ever before, according to a new national study by the Pew Research Center.  Nationwide, the dropout rate was 10 percent in 2016. That’s down about five percent from 2012.  In Austin, the dropout rate in Austin is even lower than the rest of the country, dramatically lower, just 1.3 percent.  KUT’s Claire McInerny reports on why Austin is having great success keeping Latino students in school.

The Story


Credit news.unm.edu
A master carver restoring the Smith Family Totem Pole earlier this year at UNM


Reparations And Respect For Stolen Totem Pole

In the side courtyard of the Maxwell Museum at the University of New Mexico, stands a 40-foot-tall totem pole.  That pole has been watching over the Albuquerque campus for over 70 years.  This year, it was brought inside, not just for a much-needed restoration but also to answer some pressing questions about its origins. 

 Research by retired UNM professor Dr. Beverly Singer and her UNM colleagues discovered that the pole was commissioned in 1907 by the Smith Family, members of the Tlowitsis Nation on Turnour Island, off the coast of British Columbia.  The pole was illegally removed from that site in 1941 by Frank Hibben, then a young anthropologist on the UNM faculty.  At long last, action has been taken to reach an agreement with the Smith family descendants about the pole’s future. KUNM’s Spencer Beckwith talked with Dr. Singer about the righting  of one of the wrongs indigenous people have experienced.

The Story





Insight Into The Life Of “Mexican” Writer Amado Muro

Amado Muro was a writer who told the stories of the downtrodden. He is considered by some a great Mexican writer, despite the fact that Amado Muro was actually a white man from Cleveland – Chester Seltzer.  He married a Mexican woman and adopted her name, Amada Muro, as a pseudonym.  A newspaperman, Chester frequently traveled the U.S. and Mexico to live with the people whose lives he recreated on paper. 


Robert Seltzer is Chester Seltzer’s son.  His book, “Amado Muro and Me:  A Tale of Honesty and Deception” shares his memories as a 10-year-old of his father.    He says his father’s preferred mode of travel during his outings was a freight train.

The Story


Robert Seltzer is public editor with the San Antonio Express-News.


Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1