Goodbye, Columbus. And good riddance.
In Santa Fe and other cities in our nation this Monday, instead of the traditional Columbus Day, there will be a celebration of this nation’s indigenous roots — a tribute to the people who did not need to be discovered because they already were here.
Adopted in 2016, the daylong festivities on the Santa Fe Plaza mark Santa Fe’s first Indigenous Peoples Day. Good for Santa Fe. This day is not about rewriting history into some politically correct cultural soup. This is about expanding our telling of history to show the many sides of what happened all those centuries ago. For years, the nation marked Oct. 12, 1492, as the day America was “discovered” by Columbus, ignoring the damage the explorer caused to the so-called New World. Rarely was the viewpoint of the people who met the boats considered.
In New Mexico, as we have seen with protests during the Santa Fe Fiesta, the past is far from distant. The people of New Mexico still are grappling with the wounds inflicted from centuries of European occupation. Honoring the indigenous people of this continent is the least the United States, New Mexico and Santa Fe can do. Indigenous Peoples Day needs to be commemorated across the country — and statewide in New Mexico, too.
Many nongovernmental employees will not have the day off, but people who are around the Plaza or who come downtown will enjoy the events. Starting at 8 a.m. with morning flute music and continuing on through dancing and then opening ceremonies at 10:45 a.m. with tribal leaders and Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, there will be activity on the Plaza until 5 p.m. (There also is dancing over the weekend, with the Native Pride Dancers going on at 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.)
Memories will be made, and for those who want a memory to keep, Jemez Pueblo artist George Toya’s portrayal of The Indigenous World will be available for sale as either a poster or a T-shirt. Proceeds will go to help support the Santa Fe Indian Center. Toya says his piece shows how interconnected the indigenous world is.
Most Santa Fe residents are familiar, of course, with the Pueblo people who are our neighbors. But New Mexico is home to 23 tribes — 19 pueblos, the Navajo Nation and three Apache bands (Jicarilla, Fort Sill and the Mescalero). Other tribal members from around the Americas live in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. There is a wealth of indigenous knowledge and wisdom here, all of which will be celebrated on Monday.
The protests of last month’s Fiesta de Santa Fe aren’t being forgotten, either. The 3 Sisters Collective group is hosting what is being called a Peaceful Reclamation of Santa Fe, with people gathering at Cathedral Park at 10 a.m. to walk to the Plaza in time for opening activities. As members of the collective wrote on their Facebook wall, “In Tewa, the name for Santa Fe and the surrounding region is known as O Gah Poh Geh (White Shell Watering Place). Santa Fe is and always will be Pueblo Indigenous lands. …”
Marchers are being asked to bear witness and stand for justice by wearing a white or light-colored T-shirt with brown, black or red lettering that reads, “Where is your free speech zone?” on the front, and “everywhere” on the back. The message refers to free speech zones created to isolate protesters during the Fiesta Entrada last month. The Entrada, a re-enactment of Don Diego de Vargas’ return to Santa Fe, has been criticized for omitting historical facts and for glossing over mistreatment of Native people by the Spanish. Critics want it abolished or at least moved from the public square.
Unlike Fiesta protests, though, which were loud and confrontational, organizers of this march reminded people that, “This event is child and family friendly. Signage or posters must carry a positive message. In lieu of banners you can also carry flowers or symbols of peace. … Bring your love and light to heal and counteract the trauma that has taken place and continues to be promoted nationally and locally via the Culture of Violence.”
Once on the Plaza, the marchers plan to join in the festivities, on this peaceful day celebrating the continent’s first inhabitants. Good for Santa Fe.
Stopping gun violence
We can’t possibly run all the exceptional opinion pieces on the gun violence epidemic in our print pages. For that reason, look on our website for more pieces about the issue (www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/).
We’ll have commentary from national sources, our local editorials and pieces by our readers. We hope the variety of opinions gives everyone food for thought. Readers, send us your ideas on ways we can decrease death and injury caused by guns. We are less interested in pitches for gun control laws than we are ideas to reduce the harm caused by guns.
Each problem — suicide, gun crime, mass killings — requires its own solution. Can we teach people who own guns not to leave them on the coffee table? Or in a purse where a child can grab one? How about taxing bullets? Given that there are 300 million guns loose in America, what policies will make a difference? Send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit online, and we will gather them.
This is a public health crisis. Together, we can reduce gun violence.