Hispanos vs Native Americans: Who is “La Fiesta” for?
Protests and racial tension mark the commemorative events on the Spanish reoccupation of New Mexico by Vargas
If history is written by the winners, it could also be rewritten.
When the City of Santa Fe decided to replace the controversial “La Entrada” –a recreation of Vargas recapturing Santa Fe for the Spanish from Pueblo tribes- for another kind of celebration on forgiveness and reconciliation, the resolution seemed to be a provisional end to Native American protests.
Some members from this community -10,5% of New Mexico’s population- have been asking for many years conquistador effigies such as Vargas o Don Juan Oñate to be removed from the streets, since they consider them a symbol of their ancestors’ genocide.
The Pueblo tribe had their own rebellion against Spanish conquistadores in 1680.
Last September, the conflict blew up again when the University of New Mexico announced that they were looking for a new design that could avoid protests from Native American and new Latinx generations.
“It’s a complicated history that needs to be celebrated. If it weren’t for Hispanos, who came to New Mexico first, most Native American tribes would have been wiped out,” declared the chair of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, Ralph Arellanes, to Associated Press.
New Mexico is one of the key states for the Latinx community in the U.S. They identify as “Hispanos” and can track their heritage to the first Spanish explorers. Meanwhile, they prefer the term “mestizo” or “Mexican-American.”
For Elena Ortiz, president of the Santa Fe chapter of The Red Nation, a Native American advocacy group, “more need to be done”.
And that includes erasing any symbol or statue related to the conquistador.
“This fight (they commemorate) is worse than the battle over U.S. Civil war-era Confederate monuments in the American South,” said Nick Estes, an American Studies professor at the University of New Mexico and co-founder of The Red Nation.
However, most tribal leaders such as the Pueblo Council of Governors’ Chairman, E.Paul Torres, don’t agree with activists who want to erase the conquistador icons.
“We need work and life together”, summarized Torres.