In downtown Santa Fe Friday Sept. 8, protesters will gather to call for an end to the annual re-enactment of the reconquest of the city by Spanish conquistador Diego de Vargas after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. La Entrada is one of the events at Santa Fe’s annual Fiestas celebrations.
Jennifer Marley is a lead organizer with The Red Nation, one of the groups that’s organized the demonstrations at La Entrada for a couple of years. For her, there are parallels between the national conversation about removing confederate monuments and the controversy around La Entrada in Santa Fe.
“The reason we are seeing these almost verbatim arguments in favor of racist monuments in the South, and here,” Marley said, “they come from a common source and that source is the presence of U.S. imperialism and how it rewarded the glorification of Spanish colonialism.”
When people celebrate and claim Spanish heritage, Marley said, they’re celebrating and claiming whiteness.
"It is this alignment with whiteness and with the conquistador that upholds and continues violence in this area, not only in a symbolic way, but in a very material way,” Marley explained. “When we see the backlash we get when we go and we protest things like the Entrada – last year, several of our members including young women were groped and hit and pushed by primarily older white and Hispano men.”
Josh Heckman is with Mecha, a Chicana/Chicano student organization at UNM. He said he often works in support of indigenous people. Here in New Mexico, identity can be very complex, many people who identify as Chicano/Chicana/Chicanx, Latin@, Hispanic – and have indigenous heritage as well.
"We definitely need to understand how we can participate in colonialism and perpetuate violence against indigenous people,” Heckman said, “and we need to understand that we were used by the Spanish and used by American exceptionalism to perpetuate this violence, this colonialism. We understand what these conquistadores did and the violence that we participated in, then we can start standing in solidarity with our indigenous relatives.”
These organizers of the La Entrada protest are pushing people here to make the connection between the history of Spanish colonization and present day Native American struggles for civil rights, sovereignty and control of land and resources.
"Even though we are seen as like an erasure of peoples,” Cheyenne Antonion, lead organizer with The Red Nation, said, “we are still struggling along with the outcomes of what these conquistadors did. When it comes to trying to have a say in oil and gas leasing, to have a say in missing and murdered indigenous women and how this is the outcome of all of this violence that has happened on this land.”
The violence is still happening now, Antonio said, and when we start acknowledging it, “then we’ll see the connections of why 4 out of 5 Native women will be raped or beaten in her life. Why we’re at a constant battle with land and water rights. And all of these decisions and all of these laws and policy come out of Santa Fe, too, so when we start bringing all of these issues to the forefront, then, hopefully, people will stand with us in abolishing the Entrada and taking down these statues and noticing their privilege and why things are the way they are.”
Officials are expecting a larger protest at La Entrada this year. They’ve prohibited certain items from the plaza during the events, including weapons, masks and amplification systems.
Last month, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales announced a review of monuments and markers on city property.