The Plaza on Monday was filled with merchants, tourists, music and the smell of grilled foods from local vendors — an Indigenous Peoples Day that had little of the drama of the previous year.
Unlike the 2020 holiday, when protesters toppled the Soldiers Monument, Santa Fe’s downtown was relatively quiet. Several police officers could be seen monitoring the area and posted at various corners around the Plaza, with patrol safety aides mingling with the public.
Police presence had been noticeable throughout the weekend.
Other sites with monuments, including the U.S. District Courthouse and the Cross of the Martyrs, also were quiet.
Attempts to reach Santa Fe police Capt. Aaron Ortiz, who headed police efforts over the holiday weekend, were unsuccessful.
Some Indigenous activists and performers came to the Plaza to celebrate the holiday. Michael Garcia of Acoma Pueblo was the first of several to arrive, noting he felt compelled to offer prayer and song.
Garcia, 34, said he has lived in Santa Fe for four years after finding work in the area. Monday was his third time performing at the Plaza, he said.
“I came not only on behalf of Indigenous Peoples Day, but it’s always been a calling and an intuition of mine to come down here no matter what event is going on,” Garcia said.
He said he hopes to have an impact through prayers of healing that’s “long overdue.”
“We often look at our past and look at our present and try to combine the two together,” Garcia said. “Of course, we may have conflict, division — and of course, that tension may be there, but that’s what my purpose is, to pray for that healing.”
Garcia said he supported the protesters last year.
His performance in the Plaza was followed by hoop dancers from the Lightning Boy Foundation, a nonprofit that provides hoop dance instruction to youth in Northern New Mexico.