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Santa Fe Fiesta turns page on tribute to conquistadors

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Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 5:39 PM
Dezmund Marcus of Ohkay Owingeh, N.M., performs the butterfly dance at the outset of an annual autumn festival in front of a crowd, including Roman Catholic Archbishop John Wester, right, on Friday in Santa Fe, N.M. Civic and Native American leaders this year agreed to cancel the traditional re-enactment of a 17th century conquistador reclaiming Santa Fe after a Native American revolt. Public statues and tributes to early Spanish conquerors have encountered mounting criticism tied to the brutal treatment of American Indians centuries ago by Spanish soldiers and missionaries.
Christian Romero, far right, of Ohkay Owingeh, N.M., drums and Edwin Felter, center, of Nambe, N.M., sings for a butterfly dance performance at the outset of an annual autumn festival in Santa Fe, N.M., on Friday.
Native American leaders, Paul Torres, sitting, of Isleta Pueblo, N.M., and Regis Pecos, standing, of Cochiti Pueblo, N.M., co-sign a new proclamation recognizing the “trauma, tragedy and sorrow” of the area’s colonial past, at a ceremony in Santa Fe, N.M., on Friday.

SANTA FE – Civic leaders in New Mexico’s capital city turned the page Friday on a grinding dispute over the annual re-enactment of a 17th century conquistador reclaiming Santa Fe after a Native American revolt.

The decades-old pageant of Spanish soldiers in armor was replaced with new gestures of reconciliation at Santa Fe’s autumn festival that starts with Catholic Mass and a performance by Indian Pueblo dancers.

“Today marks a new beginning as we lay the past to rest through our mutual acknowledgement of the pain, agony and suffering that took place,” said Paul Torres, chairman of a council of tribal governors in New Mexico that helped negotiate an end to the re-enactment.

Destiny Baca, of Pojoaque, N.M., performs the butterfly dance at the outset of an annual autumn festival in Santa Fe, N.M., Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.
Morgan Lee/Associated Press

Critics of the re-enactment say it glorified colonialism and glossed over the continued violent subjugation the region’s Native American tribes endured.

Under the new plan, Santa Fe will host to a monthlong celebration that ends with Indigenous Peoples Day Oct. 8 at Santa Fe’s central plaza.

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