Community members react to SJP mural reveal


Congress Delegate Kimberly Teehee speaks to the audience about the Cherokee Nation’s fight for federal recognition during the Social Justice Pathway mural reveal Monday evening in front of the 800s building. According to Teehee, she is grateful to Palo Alto High School for providing the students with the opportunities and resources to impact their community. “I think it [the mural] says a lot about this school and how it nurtures and fosters students’ ideas,” Teehee said. “I think [it] will impact students and teachers every time [they] walk by this mural. They’ll know it because this institution gave the students the environment to thrive and finish a project like this and not hold them back. To me, it speaks volumes to how you foster young minds in teaching them, how to work together and how to come together, and put a project together from beginning to end.” (Photo: Kristine Lin)

Kristine Lin, Managing Editor

Members of the community are praising Palo Alto High School students in the Social Justice Pathway after attending the unveiling of the student-made mural honoring the Cherokee Nation’s fight for federal recognition Monday evening in front of the 800s building.

The mural was organized by the Same Moon, Same Stars group, led by several SJP seniors in efforts to advocate for Native Americans to gain federal recognition. In the past weeks, the SJP students have also made an effort to raise awareness about this cause, including inviting Muwekma Ohlone Chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh to speak to Paly students. The mural features an image of Congress Delegate Kimberly Teehee, who said she was touched to see the result of months of hard work.

“It [the mural] is so moving, and it really made me emotional, because I know the amount of work that it took the students to put [in] the research and put the art together,” Teehee said. “I came here last year and it was just still a concept. So to see what they did over the years made me quite emotional.”

School board member Shana Segal had a similar experience viewing the mural, as she said she was highly impressed with the students’ work.

“This was a true collaboration between the Paly students between Delegate Teehee and the Cherokee Nation,” Segal said. “I’m honored to be here to witness it, and I’m so impressed by our Social Justice Pathway, our students and the teacher, Mr. [Eric] Bloom.”

Several parents of SJP students said they felt inspired to make a change in their community after attending the event. SJP parent Jeanna Rose said she applauds the students for the amount of time and dedication they have put into advocating for Native Americans.

SJP seniors have worked on the mural as part of a months-long project organized by the student-led Same Moon, Same Stars group, intended to raise awareness about the Cherokee Nation’s fight for federal recognition. (Photo: Kristine Lin)

“As a Native American myself, I was reminded of my roots and really just impressed by the students’ drive and the efforts that they had to go through to reach such high levels as to involve a Congress person,” Rose said. “Delegate Teehee reminded me of where I came from and how important it is to carry that forward to our present, to our children and to the future.”

SJP parent Rachel Cleary said she is grateful and proud of what the students have accomplished.

“It’s so inspirational, and I feel so privileged to be part of this community,” Cleary said. “I feel like the students here have worked so hard and have collaborated with the Native community and learned from them. We’re lucky now that they’re bringing it to all of us.”

According to freshman River Wu, she believes the location and display of the mural will also impact the student body.

“Seeing it [the mural] multiple times each day really solidifies the idea that this group is still being affected and it’s still a prominent issue that our government is responsible for and should fix,” Wu said.

SJP parent Ravi Madhabhushi said he praises the students for pursuing such an impactful topic.

I’m very proud of it, and I didn’t even think how they actually came across an issue like this,” Madhabhushi said. “Once this project is done, generations will look at this image and they’ll think about something better for the society, so that’s what excites me.”

Segal said she looks forward to seeing how the mural will impact all members of the Palo Alto community, both in the present and in the future.

“What I’m hoping happens is that you see the beautiful artwork, and then you ask questions and then you delve deeper,” Segal said. “The more you learn, the more you are inspired. It’s this relationship of inspiring and educating and hopefully bringing about more change for social justice with our future generations.”