I can’t even get my head around what ‘reconciliation’ would look like for Indigenous tribes whether in relation to Entrada and the reconquest or in relation to Manifest Destiny and our entire nation’s entire history. But it appears that just maybe we will no longer have a historically inaccurate pageant rubbed in the faces of our Native neighbors, offending them and many of us. Maybe.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that there have been talks going on behind the scenes, convened by the Mayor and including Archbishop Wester and Pueblo Governor’s Council members. According to the Journal: “Regis Pecos, a former governor of Cochiti Pueblo and current co-director of the Leadership Institute on the campus of Santa Fe Indian School, served as facilitator of the discussions that have been taking place between the pueblos, the city and the church.”
Archbishop Wester indicated in October that the Entrada re-enactment had to change. “It is the archbishop’s hope that it becomes a celebration for all people,” said Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, who has also been part of recent discussions. “But before there can be celebration, there has to be reconciliation.” Sanchez said a formal to expect an apology by Wester for the cruelty that was inflicted when the colonists imposed their religion upon the native population. “This is in line with what Pope Francis has already done,” he said.
The Pueblo Governor’s Council voted 12-0 to endorse a proclamation that the Entrada “fails to accurately recognize the truth” of what actually happened in the 17th and 18th centuries, and has “added static and harmful depictions of history and indigenous people.” According to Pecos, the pueblos’ leadership will be responsible for having dialogue with the protesters. It may be a tough sell. Demonstrators still say that holding anything resembling the Entrada on the city’s Plaza is unacceptable.
The resolution endorsed by the All Pueblo Governors’ Council resolution calls for apologies from both the church and the city “to heal the wounds and trauma caused by conflicts of the past, and through mutual forgiveness a new era guided by our core values for our shared cultures and histories be established. “ ‘We ask for forgiveness not only for the cruelty that was caused, but for the silence,’ ” Sanchez said. “You have to take responsibility not only for the cruelty, but for the silence if you were witness to it.” While not part of the governors’ proclamation, Pecos said pueblo people have a responsibility to accept the apology in order to complete the circle of reconciliation.
A formal agreement as to how to handle the relationship between the Fiesta, the Entrada and its historic presentation at the Plaza has not been reached. While the talks between tribal and church representatives is a tremendous start, selling a deal to Fiesta organizers and Indigenous activists may be a tough sell. To date, neither Fiesta representatives nor Red Nation or other Native activists have been included in discussions.
Thomas Baca, newly elected president of the Caballeros de Vargas acknowledged that change needed to occur with the Entrada, but did not appear ready to accept its being moved from the Plaza, saying: “That’s where the food is; that is where the people are.” and expressing concerns another location would not result in the desired attendance. But moving it off of the Plaza seems to be an essential component of any agreement.
“We can sit down and talk, but nothing short of getting it off the Plaza and getting them out of the schools is going to work. Not anymore. Not after last year,” said Elena Ortiz, a Santa Fean from Ohkay Owingeh who heads up In the Spirit of Po’Pay, a Native American rights group named for the leader of the Pueblo Revolt. “And I don’t want to hear anything about changing the script or how to make it more inclusive. It’s a celebration of genocide and conquest theater. It belongs in a theater setting, not in our schools and not in our public places,” Ortiz said. Jennifer Marley, Red Nation leader who was arrested at the protest in September noted: “The very least they could do is to take it inside,” Marley said. “There’s absolutely no healing as long as we’re denying the revisionist history that’s being presented. There’s no way we can heal on false premises, period. They claim that it’s a religious event, then they should have it in a church.”
Former state historian, Estevan Rael-Gálvez was part of the initial discussions between the pueblo Council of Governors, the city and the archdiocese, and was said to have put the entire Entrada in historical context. ““The Entrada as we know it today was an invention of the 20th Century,” he said. “In this case, it was invented as part of a wave of founder’s day celebrations across the nation. It was not something that was homegrown; it did not come from here.” In the end, Rael-Gálvez pointed in the direction of what a possible resolution might look like. “Inevitably, there will be people who feel like something is being taken away or lost. But if we are truly committed to healing, it can’t be about us versus them. It has to be about transformation and reconciliation, and recognizing that it’s time to think about it as an opportunity for a new tradition,” he said. “I think as a community we have that responsibility and opportunity to recognize not only the harm that has been caused, but the real beauty of these cultures in our communities.”
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Fingers crossed that this can be resolved before September 2018. Frankly, the Entrada in its current format is a revisionist insult not just to Native populations, but to all Santa Feans who want to celebrate our traditions with integrity and honesty. The Entrada portrays the reconquest as a bloodless celebration, ignoring the genocide, ongoing destruction of Native cultural, continuing violation of Native rights, and destruction of their lands. That is a good deal to overlook.
Paul & Roxanne