Museum Graffiti

Graffiti and red paint stain the statue of Fray Angelico Chavez, which was vandalized outside the New Mexico History Museum overnight Monday.

Vandals struck the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library & Photo Archives early Tuesday morning, tagging an exterior wall and sculpture of the downtown building with a reference to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

A message painted in large red numbers and letters said “1680 Land Back,” and red paint streamed down the front of the bronze statue of Chávez.

Crews with the New Mexico History Museum, which oversees the library, were able to remove the paint from the statue by Tuesday afternoon but were less successful restoring the wall.

“We got a good first start,” history museum Director Billy Garrett said. “Some of the surfaces were easier to clean than others.”

The museum had consulted with the New Mexico Department of Culture Affairs’ Museum Resources Division, which is the custodian of the statue, on how to safely remove the paint.

Greg Gurulé, a spokesman for the Santa Fe Police Department, said the agency had no report of the incident. He referred questions to New Mexico State Police.

Officer Dusty Francisco, a state police spokesman, said the case is under investigation and anyone with information on the crime can call the New Mexico State Police at (505) 841-9256, Ext. 1.

Garrett said he believes it was a case of mistaken identity: The vandals seem to have interpreted the statue as a representation of brutality associated with late 16th-century and 17th-century Spanish colonialism.

In fact, Fray Angélico Chávez lived from 1910-96. He served as a major in the U.S. Army in World War II and the Korean War and was a priest, poet, historian, archivist, artist, author, biographer and genealogist.

“I suspect what happened was someone saw a statue of a priest,” Garrett said. “The symbolism overwhelmed the sense of what that statue represents. It’s hard to see that there is any connection.”

Cultural tensions have erupted in New Mexico amid the wave of protests against racism since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in Minneapolis police custody. While demonstrations nationwide have targeted symbols of slavery and the Confederacy, protests in New Mexico, including in Santa Fe, have centered on Spanish colonial and Anglo figures who perpetrated violence against Native Americans.

Ahead of a planned demonstration on the Plaza in June, organized by Native American advocacy groups, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber removed a statue of Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Vargas from Cathedral Park and attempted to remove the Plaza obelisk. He also called for removal of a Kit Carson monument, also an obelisk, in front of the downtown federal courthouse.

De Vargas reclaimed Santa Fe for the Spanish crown a dozen years after the Pueblo Revolt.

Both monuments have been vandalized.

But state museums “have not had any incidents of a similar nature in recent history,” the Department of Cultural Affairs said in a statement.

“We at the history museum do understand there are disagreements in history,” Garrett said. “We would like to be a place where people can come together and discuss history.

“The way I feel about it: The history museum exists as a public institution where we can talk about everybody’s history,” he said.

(29) comments

Thomas Chavez

Fray Angélico was not a racist. Ms. Beninato never met him and bases her debasing of him on an article he wrote. He was a brilliant historian and the article in question about Popé is a case in point. Ms. Beninato's article failed miserably in its attempt to undermine Fray Angélico's conclusion. By the way, he published over twenty books and painted. Are they evidence of his alleged racism too? No. In fact, they clearly demonstrate the opposite.

Stefanie Beninato

Aren't you related to him? I think intentionally mistranslating the phrase "tronco de los Naranjos...who became motores in the revolt. The word tronco means forebearer as you know. Chavez's theory that the pueblos were too disorganized and too disunited to lead a successful report written in 1967 at the height of all those power movements (Black power, Brown power, Red power etc) sure sounds racist to me. Domingo Naranjo was the forebearer not the leader. He did not walk in and lead the revolt as an adult non Pueblo. And how dare you question my scholarship without being specific. BTW your uncle Fray Angelico was invited to respond to my article but refused to respond. He is a well known geneaologist and this type of mistranslation is not a mistake. It is intentional. Read the article and the footnotes Tom.

goodwell sp

Stefanie Beninato , you are so deeply flawed in your biased judgment of him I truly do not know where to start. Do you even realize Fray Angelico Chavez was part of the Native community?? Do you realize part of his ancestry WAS in fact Native American?? Chavez was also English as a second Language. In fact it was his grandfather who worked diligently and passionately to correct the racist mistakes that the U.S. government tried to do to the American Indian in New Mexico ?? If anything Chavez was speaking on behalf of his OWN community and how we saw it. This man not only was a Priest, he dedicated his life to preserving not just the history of the Spanish families of New Mexico but also the native history and heritage of New Mexico which would have been lost. This was a history he was a part of. So your 1 liner prejudiced statement was actually a descriptive of how he saw his OWN community he was a part of by blood and by community. So I DARE question your "scholarship". In fact the entire community of people joined by blood and heritage not only DARE but challenge it. Be very careful where you tread Stefanie, most of us are WELL informed on our heritage , genealogy and history of our ancestors and we intend to PRESERVE IT.

Mike Johnson

Yes, the work of more of these so-called "peaceful protestors". That false narrative is getting disproved more and more often, as incidents in Portland, Seattle, and Chicago continue. But these "peaceful protestors" are a protected political class, and it will be difficult for the left wing officials to recognize what this really is, and do something about it.

goodwell sp

Exactly most are not even from the community that is what is so abhorrent. The people who did this were clearly not even from New Mexico otherwise they would have know who he was and how much he did for the Heritage of Native populations the he himself was a part of.

Patricia Ortiz

The Pueblo Indian may have been here first, the one indigenous to NM, before they chased the Clovis off. This was the situation when the Spanish arrived. The Red Nation who stirred the pot was never here. The Spanish settlers having been in northern NM for centuries, since ancient times, northern/central NM is our history, the good and the bad, thus we have a dog in this fight. Rest assured, the vandals do not know or care about history. The rude vandals in this case, did not even have facts straight as to the year 1680, typical of those who just lash out in anger with no evidence. The bottom line, damage is a crime, a potential felony and punishable by law. No one has the right to destroy what does not belong to them. If vandals see that corruption, misconducts, or wrong doing of any crime is not punishable, ignoring the rule of law, well then they feel they are not answerable to no one, it’s acceptable. What happened at the library was out of racist hate, maybe the offenders will learn that hate resolves nothing. These activists feel that the world revolves around them, are narcissistic, immature reacting with temper tantrums instead of reason, they likely have a limited emotional capability to relate to the real world, since they’re stuck in antiquity.

Stefanie Beninato

What???!!!! Pueblos chased the Clovis people away??? Where did you get this info since Clovis people moved out when the climate dried up and followed saber tooth tigers, mammoths etc? That was thousands of years before the Archaic Indians who were the ancestors of pueblos showed up in this area.

HRH Prince Michael Jauregui

An educated guess? This is not the work of local Native Americans - too cowardly of an act.

Be sure, after several private conversations with my brothers from two different tribes regarding the attempts by BLM to insert "Red and Brown People" into their mayhem and violence, both, essentially had the same response: Our struggles are not the same.

Weeks-ago, Holy Bibles and crucifixes were torched in Portland, last night The Ronald McDonald House - with children inside- in Chicago was attacked, and locally a statue of a priest was vandalized.

Despite the Print Media's shameless and deceptive "peaceful protesters" terminology, -FOR MONTHS- these soulless and cowardly crimes are nothing less than Domestic Terrorism. Staunchly supported by a Vice-Presidential candidate?

In the -translated- words of a Spanish adage: Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are.

Khal Spencer


Stefanie Beninato

Sorry but you are repeating QAnon conspiracy theories re burning bibles and crucifixes..>Try reading major social media instead of conspiracy, alt-right dark state sites

Khal Spencer

So the plaza area gets hit again by midnight cowards? Is there a tacit policy in Santa Fe to have the police look the other way while hooligans trash the place? Maybe we need a citizen's watch, since no one else seems to want to stop this madness.

And Ms.Fish, you you think we should all take justice into our own hands, beware of what you wish for. Mob rule is not pretty.

KT Rivera

Vandalism again on the same street that the bicyclists who vandalized the plaza obelisk were last seen. Perhaps more surveillance on that avenue?

Joseph Tafoya

Many locals have ancestry from both sides so was the land stolen from my people or did my people steal the land? I believe there are agitators out there whose motives are not for the betterment of our city, state, or country. Their goal is to create division by whatever means in order to change our system of government.

William Craig

The “broken windows theory” states that unrepaired damage in a given neighborhood creates an atmosphere of lawlessness. The theory was cited by Rudy Giuliani when he famously turned NYC around after decades of neglect under previous mayors like Abe Beame and Ed Koch. (The current criminal mayor Bill de Blasio has joined the György Soros mob in making things much, much worse.)

This summer, downtown SF has seen a sharp spike in acts of vandalism as well as shootings ever since mid-June when the Plaza monument’s capstone and the De Vargas statue were suddenly removed by city and state crews during the wee hours — are the criminals now just following the leaders?

Bill Nibchuck

Who wants their land back?

I didn't know there was anyone still alive from 1680...

Kathy Fish

Not that I condone this act, but with a name like the "Fray Angélico Chávez History Library & Photo Archives," it was only a matter of time. Folks are taking justice into their own hands, and the colonial implications of this institution's name aren't lost on any of us. Native Americans were the first Americans, period.

Barry Rabkin

Yes, Native Americans were the first Americans. Absolutely. And just as absolutely, the Spanish came and beat the living @#$@ out of the first Americans. Eventually, through conquest, blood, and treaties (whether they were honored or not), the US Military brought the land under US control. So, the 'land' you're standing on in Santa Fe is US land ... every square inch of it unless it is on a reservation or pueblo. No amount of paint, no amount of marches, no amount of vandalism is going to change the fact that we are living on US land (unless we are on a reservation or pueblo). So, it's 'stolen land'? So what? A great deal of the world's countries have the land they have from similar history.

Richard Reinders

The Pueblos took the land from the Navajo or some other first American conquest was everyone's way of life then and now. You can't condone this nonsense anymore. People don't understand after the revolt when the Comanche , Navajo and Apache attacked the Pueblos almost to extinction the Pueblo Governors sent runners to El Paso to get the Spanish and that's when De Vargas came . It is between the Spanish and the Pueblos not a couple of disrespectful kids spray painting or a bunch of white do gooders.

Stefanie Beninato

Where did you go to school? The pueblos ran to El Paseo to ask DeVargas for help? Read a legitimate history book.

Khal Spencer

Its a lot easier to smash a statue than to build a more just society. These people are cowards.

goodwell sp

What is wrong with the name?? Are we not supposed to have any Spanish names on buildings now? How far are we going to take this?? Fray Angelico Chavez was a priest that could have lived during your lifetime depending how old you are. FYI he was also of Native American descent. sooo

Stefanie Beninato

The statute of Fray Angelico Chavez should be removed. Chavez was a racist. Look at his article on the Pueblo Revolt published in 1967 about how an adult nonPueblo walked in and was "the" leader of the Pueblo Revolt. The openly racist theory caught my attention in 1980. I did research and there is no one leader of the Revolt. Yes, Naranjos (mixed race) were some of the leaders as were other mixed race leaders. Go to NM Historical Review Oct 1990 for the article. I also do talks on this topic through the NM Humanities Council. I suggested to the city that it should have held a symposium yesterday (AUG 10) to honor Native American history/culture. I guess because it was me the director of arts and cultures and Webber dismissed it with a polite thank you for sending. Or maybe it is just another example of Webber and his adminstration's hypocrisy.

When I did a symposium on this with a leader from one of the pueblos and an archae0logist over 100 people showed up at the SFPL even though it had rained an inch in the hour before.

As far as I know, pueblo people abandoned the site by the late 1300s. Yes some Tano Indians from the Galisteo Basin were in possession of the Palace of the Govn on DeVargas' return. And yes the Spaniards with the help of the Pecos Pueblo drove the Tanos out. DeVargas hanged 70 as "an example".

Khal Spencer

Can you provide a URL to the 1967 article? I frankly am not interested in tearing down a statue based on your opinion alone, scholarly or otherwise, but it would be good to get the source material available here so we can have a more informed discussion.

Stefanie Beninato

I don't know if 1990 NMHR is online. I am sure you can go to New Mexico Historical Review. First article in the Oct 1990 publication. I used not only sociocultural sources but also archaic Spanish Sources including AGN Civil tomo 426 with the translation that Chavez intentionally mistranslated. It is the smoking gun

Khal Spencer

I went to the Historical Review site and it looked like I had to pay to have access.

Stefanie Beninato

Same true for Chavez's article in 1967. It used to be in a reader published in 1980.

Jim Klukkert

The following requires purchasing access:

Pohè-Yemo's Representative and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680

Fray Angelico Chavez

Home > Vol 42, No 2: April, 1967 > Chavez

This is the 1990 article by Stefanie Beninato for

Pope, Pose-yemu, and Naranjo: A New Look at Leadership in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680

Stefanie Beninato


Full Text:


goodwell sp

Don't bother, she seems to be running with the theme at Fray Angelico Chavez who was himself of Native descent and Latino descent and English as a second language was a racist because of his views of his OWN community. I can't even believe it was published. It is all very thinly veiled attacks on man she knows nothing about. Perhaps she should have researched at least his genealogy just a tad. Interesting she is hustling it on this forum and it is a pay to view. To that I say no thanks Stefanie, we don't need to tear down a statue of a Latino, of Native ancestry and a Catholic priest just cause you say so.

goodwell sp

Please see above: However I feel obligated to respond here too since you are spamming the forum attacking anyone who "DARES" questions you. You accuse a man who was also of Native American descent , English as a second language who worked passionately to PRESERVE the cultural history of Latinos and those of Native descent. Now you call him a racist?? Do you even hear yourself? I wonder would anyone pass your purity test? Because you have attacked Fray Angelico a man of Native descent, a Latino, a Catholic priest, for his views on his OWN culture. People of mixed ethnicity would never pass your tests as you would insist they ignore their European ancestry on behalf of their Native ancestry. That in its self is BIGOTED. You seem to be running with the very bigoted view of the quote "Noble Savage". That theory in its self was incredibly bigoted and flawed. We are all people and all human. To make certain people pass "purity tests" is in its self bigoted and FLAWED. So you can talk about the symposiums you did etc. just know what this sounds like to the people of the New Mexican community you are asking to pass your purity tests to as you demand to tear down one of their own who did so much for their community.

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