In this article, Red Nation activist Jennifer Marley gives us insights of the actions undertaken by Indigenous activists in Santa Fe since 2015. Protesting “The Entrada,” a celebration that commemorates the violent colonial reconquest of Pueblo lands in New Mexico, they successfully abolished it in 2017.
Within so-called “New Mexico” live several Native Nations, the majority of which are Pueblo Nations comprised of Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, Keres, and Zuni people. Of all the Native peoples in North America, Pueblo people are the only ones who have experienced the triple conquest of Spain, Mexico, and the United States. But their traditions of resistance are as old as the history of conquest. The Pueblo revolt of 1680 is the first Indigenous rebellion that successfully ousted colonizers from Pueblo lands. Prior to this, the Tiguex War in the 1540s forced the conquistador Coronado to retreat for 80 days after he had attempted to make contact with Pueblo people for the first time. Pueblo people would lead a series of at least five rebellions prior to the 1680 Pueblo revolt, and at least four after, which continued well into the mid-1800s when U.S. settlers were targeted and killed. The Revolt of 1680, however, is known for its immense success and is in turn used in settler narratives to justify the intensified conquest that would follow, painting Pueblo people as “reformed savages” who only by the cross came to be peaceful and subservient. Today, this resistance to settler colonialism continues in the form of a grassroots movement that seeks to confront revisionist history and the continued celebration of conquest and genocide. Galvanizing support for this revived movement were the recent protests against the Entrada, a racist reenactment of the brutal conquest of O gah Po’geh Owingeh or “the white shell water place”; the original Tewa name for so-called “Santa Fe.”
The 1680 Pueblo revolt was led by Tewa spiritual leader PoPay. With his leadership and years of tireless organizing, Pueblo people pushed back Spanish invaders to El Paso where they retreated for 12 years. In Autumn of 1692 the Spanish returned, led by the infamously brutal conquistador Don Diego de Vargas. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, Pueblo people had been preparing for their return and secretly planned a second rebellion. Upon the arrival of the colonists, Pueblo people pretended to forgo their own spirituality and convert to Catholicism, publicly displaying their devotion to Jesus and the Cross. But in late December of that year, Pueblos once again revolted. The battle lasted eight days and left countless Pueblo warriors dead, with many Pueblo women distributed to Spanish families as slaves. The return of the Spanish in 1692 would become known as “The Bloodless Reconquest” (“Reconquista”) by generations of New Mexicans to come. Pueblo men suspected of being conspirators in the December uprising were hung at the gallows that stood in the Santa Fe Plaza where, today, Palace and Lincoln streets intersect. About 80 men would be publicly executed here to serve as examples of what would happen to rebels under Spanish rule. The Santa Fe Plaza, like many plazas established in Spanish settlements, was a center for these public executions, but also a center for social life and the trade and exchange of goods. Native women and girls from various tribes continue to be trafficked and traded as commodities in this very space that Pueblo people would be tortured and executed. This was also where the Spanish would establish their religious centers, building three major cathedrals in this area.