By Ciera Miller, Staff Writer
Hannah Binder at Colby’s HT94 installation (Photo courtesy of Ciera Miller)
Since September, University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) students across five disciplines participated in filling out a total of 1,370 toe tags for the Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) installation at the Oak Institute for Human Rights at Colby College. A toe tag is a piece of cardboard or paper attached to the toe of a deceased person used to identify them. HT94 is an art project organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), directed by anthropologist Jason de León.
HT94 was born out of the term “Hostile Terrain”, a direct quote from the U.S. government’s Prevention Through Deterrence (PTD) policy. PTD uses the desert and mountains as a form of border patrol to deter people from migrating into the United States through Arizona. However, PTD has failed and migrants continue to flood in.
For this project, toe tags are filled out and pinned to a large wall map at the coordinates at which a dead migrant body was found. Orange tags belong to unidentified people and white tags belong to the identified.
Dr. Gaelyn Aguilar brought HT94 to UMF because she believes in “teaching justice in an unjust world.” She said, “I was hoping that filling out our toe tags would feel an awful lot like the naming of names,” which she compared to the most recent surge of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country.
Cassie Donald, a UMF student who participated in filling out over 20 toe tags, echoed Aguilar. It made them feel more personally involved and was more than just an assignment. “Putting names to the issue made it very real,” they said. “It brought forward a lot of emotion that reading an article might not.”
Aguilar discussed the language used to dehumanize migrants coming into the U.S. from our southern border. “We call undocumented immigrants ‘illegal’―folks do that to avoid speaking the names of those who’ve died, or even having to imagine their faces,” she said. Aguilar believes contributing to this toe tag installation allowed herself, her faculty members, and her students to reinvision these migrants and give them their names back, not only in individual consciences but in our national conscience as well.
Senior Adriana Burnham knows what it’s like to experience this language. “I’m half-Mexican, and I get a lot of jokes about jumping the border,” she said. Due to Burnham’s heritage, it felt personally disrespectful not to fill out these toe tags. Living in the U.S., Burnham reflects that most don’t have to stress about crossing into a new country to start a new life and/or supporting families from afar. “It gives a reality to something we don’t see in Maine,” she said. “We have this chance to recognize these people who risked their lives.”
Laney Randolph, a senior education major, was blindsided by the amount of tags UMF received to fill out. She hadn’t realized how many people died crossing the border. “It’s horrifying to think that this isn’t something most people are aware of,” Randolph said. “I think Americans would have a much more empathetic attitude towards immigrants if they knew just how difficult and dangerous it was to get here.”
Their reactions are the purpose of HT94. This installation is a moment of global reflection and remembrance of those who’ve died on this hostile terrain, trying to cross into the United States. Donald said it best: “It’s important for people outside of the issue to gain awareness of the issue.”
By Kaitlyn York Contributing Writer
Milani Hicks (#22) goes for a layup, fighting through the pressure of Colby College’s defense.
Dearborn Gymnasium roared with applause as the Men’s Basketball team took the court preparing to face the Mules of Colby College. After a hard fought battle, the Beavers fell short of the win with a final score of 92-76 going to the Mules.
Head Coach Richard Meader said the team knew they had a hard game ahead of them. “We knew it was going to be difficult. They were 7-1 and had a couple wins over very good teams,” said Meader. “They had good size and could shoot the ball very well.”
Knowing what they would be going up against, the Beavers worked on guarding their (Colby’s) offense during practices leading up to the game. “They’re a very good shooting team so we were just working on getting to their shooters and stopping that,” said Milani Hicks, a senior captain.
When the game began, Hicks started out strong scoring the first two points of the game with a slam dunk. Colby came back and scored a three-pointer immediately after and that was just the beginning of the back and forth battle for the lead.
“We played nervously,” said Meader “Our effort was there, there was no question about that, but we didn’t make shots and Colby did and that really makes it difficult.”
At halftime, the score was 49-32 in favor of the Mules, though the Beavers did not give up hope. Riley Robinson, a junior captain, said they knew that they still had a chance to win and were able to come up with a new plan for the second half.
“We tried to make some more changes defensively and offensively and we were able to execute them but we just came up a little short,” said Robinson.
Throughout the second half of the game, the gymnasium filled with tension as both teams played strong in hopes to beat out the other. “With a team that moves the ball as well as they [Colby] did and shoots it as well,” said Meader. “To stop them you’ve got to be aggressive and we ended up fouling them because the movement of the ball puts you in a tough situation.”
Though the game did not turn out as they had planned, the Beavers remain positive as they look back on the things they did well. “Just not giving up at the end,” said Hicks. “I know we were down 15-20 at the beginning but we didn’t give up, we still fought and that’s a positive. I’ll take that away.”
“It was hard, physical game, two good teams battling, fast-paced,” said Robinson. “I really liked the resiliency that we showed.”
Amir Moss was the top scorer of the game for UMF, scoring a total of 26 out of the 76 points. He was followed by Hicks, who scored 13 personal points.
With the loss, the team now has a record of 4-2 but remain 2-0 within their conference. “Obviously, the main goal is to win the conference and go to the NCAA’s,” said Meader, while also pointing out his team’s specific goal for the season. “Our goal is to get the number one seed and play at home with the final game.”
The Beavers will face off with the Mules again on Tuesday, Jan. 8th at Colby College. Before then, the team will continue to work on building up their confidence and getting out of the shooting slump that they are currently in according to Meader. “We’ll shoot better next time and we’ll do some things to counter them.”
The next home game for the men’s team will be played on Wednesday, Jan. 16th in Dearborn Gymnasium starting at 7:00 p.m..