Cover, June 12:
"Summer Guide 2013"
Whose Hero?

From an indigenous perspective, I am insulted by the very name “La Conquistadora.” It conjures up, for me, images of death and misery. It conjures up generational memories of genocide, rape, stolen lands and forced conversion.

I am a citizen of the city of Santa Fe, and I am offended by Rev. Adam Ortega’s assumption that all Santa Feans “celebrated what is the core and essence of Fiestas de Santa Fe.” I, for one, did not. Ortega is correct in saying that “La Conquistadora” is part of the past history of Santa Fe, but he mentions only narrowly how and why she was born.

La conquistadora’s origins come before the “Revolt of 1680” (I say it was a real revolution and not a mere revolt). The wheels of the revolution began to turn with the violent and brutal invasion of now-New Mexico by Juan de Oñate in 1598. It was an invasion, not motivated by lofty ideals of freedom and equality, but rather an invasion motivated by greed: greed for wealth and souls and nothing more.

In October 1958, a violent confrontation between the Acomas and the Spanish took place, in which 11 soldiers and the nephew of Juan de Oñate were killed. A war later ensued, and in the bitter cold of January 1599, my Acoma People took the brunt of their savagery for doing what any people would do: defend the land and the culture. Acoma was nearly destroyed.

For over 80 years, the People suffered under extremely heavy oppression. Many women were raped; a beautiful and ancient religion was banned, and to practice it meant death; heavy taxes were extracted from the people in the form of crops, labor and livestock. The people were forcefully converted to Christianity. Two-thirds of the indigenous population here in the Southwest perished from conquistador contact. Entire cultures, whole tribes vanished. Of the 90 indigenous so-called “pueblos” here at the time of the Spanish invasion, only 19 remain today.

In retaliation for the oppression, an uprising was born in 1680. New Mexico was free until 12 years later, when we see the “bloodless reconquest,” though it was not bloodless at all. The namesake “La Conquistadora” was then born—a name not associated with peace, but rather violence.

Ortega mentions that “we must respect the beliefs of others.” Yet the Catholic church, from the very beginning of American/European contact, has been at the core of the violence, genocide and forced conversion. Is this an example of the “respect for others” he demands? Is it blasphemy to mention this? No, it is simply historical fact. The church has accumulated land and untold wealth from all indigenous people. The Catholic church by no means has any right to any moral high ground.

It is bewildering to see so much time and effort, so much money (public and private) spent on this New Mexico obsession with a savage past. New Mexico is continually at the top of one ruinous list or another. We are the dumbest, the poorest, the most violent, the most drug- and alcohol-addled, even the clumsiest! Yet the cities of Santa Fe, Albuquerque and El Paso see fit, in spite of all our social ills, to spend millions on conquistador history. I personally have never heard of any apologies from the Catholic church, which declared the war on Acoma as “just.”

I read somewhere, and I paraphrase, that you can tell a community’s integrity by the heroes they choose to honor. C Maurus Chino

Acoma Tribe

Offense Taken I have read with interest the objections that have been voiced about your Summer Guide cover.

This is what offends me.

I am offended that the Catholic Church massacred my French Huguenot ancestors and ran the survivors out of France. I am offended that the Catholic Church massacred my English Protestant ancestors and ran the survivors out of England. I am offended that the Catholic Church tortured and killed my Spanish Jewish ancestors and ran the survivors out of Spain requiring them to become crypto-Jews to survive in New Mexico. I am offended that the Catholic Church enslaved, tortured and worked to death my Central American ancestors in order to gild the churches of Rome with gold and silver.  I am offended that the Catholic Church enslaved, tortured and worked to death local Pueblo Indians and then has the gall to celebrate this event annually in Santa Fe at a fiesta that features the Lady of Guadalupe. I am offended by the hundreds of pedophilic priests that prey on thousands of young children and whose actions are known to and concealed by church officials. I am offended by a religion that has as a basic tenet the cannibalistic pagan practice of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the representative of its god.

If the Catholic Church will formally recognize and apologize for these crimes against humanity, then I will join with them in their criticism of your recent cover. Stuart H Barger

La Puebla

Holy Crap! Just read some of the feedback about the ‘Guadalupe’ cover. Just wanted to encourage you to stand your ground. It’s tough being an atheist in this state, completely surrounded by the traditional mode.

I do realize this Catholic culture is embedded, and I try to be respectful, but it’s time to realize that there’s other people here who work hard, pay taxes and may enjoy a lighter view of things.

Emily Chapman