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In 1680 the Pueblos of northern New Mexico joined forces in a revolt against the Spanish governor, clergymen and people in order to reclaim the land occupied by Spaniards since the late 16th century. On Saturday, August 11, the Tesuque Pueblo held its 15th Annual Foot Race event to honor and commemorate the victory of two Tesuque men, Nicolas Catua and Pedro Omtua, who in August of 1680 ran holding leather and yucca cords to neighboring villages in order to spread word of the revolt’s earlier-than-planned beginning.
The foot race began just before dawn at the Tesuque Pueblo and two young men, Cypriano Herrera and Jonathan Vigil, were chosen to carry the cords. Each knot on the cord signified a day until the revolt was to begin in August of 1680. During the foot race on Saturday, every Tesuque runner held the commemorative cords in relay-race fashion before meeting at Fort Marcy Park to run as group, led by Herrera and Vigil, to the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.
Tribal members gathered together in the SFCCC courtyard chatting and waiting for Mayor David Coss and Tesuque governors and council members to speak. In his brief speech, Mayor Coss honored the two Tesuque men who sacrificed themselves in order to carry important messages to surrounding Pueblos and villages on August 10, 1680. After the speech, a group of 12 young Tesuque men and women dressed in leather and colorful adornments performed the “bow and arrow” dance.
Scanning the crowd there appeared almost exclusively Native Americans. When asked why there were not more non-Natives present at the event, James Hena, a former Tesuque governor said, “Either they don’t care, or there was no publicity on the part of the mayor and his staff.” Carla Lopez, Public Information Administrator for Mayor Coss’ office said that sometimes “information doesn’t get sent to us, but we’re willing to promote nonprofits or community related events.”
Members of the Tesuque Pueblo told me that Saturday’s event was more of a [Tesuque] community event. Roxanne Herrera, an organizer of the event, said that the 2007 event drew a larger non-Native crowd, but that, since it was the 10th annual celebration, there was more effort to promote it. Herrera also said that on Saturday evening a member of the tribe suggested the event be more open to the larger community next year. In traditional Native fashion, the idea will ultimately be discussed among tribal elders
According to Lopez, Mayor Coss’ involvement with the Pueblos has been progressive, “He has done a tremendous amount to establish a government-to-government relationship that did not exist before.”
Tesuque Governor Ramos Romero’s office did not return a phone call by deadline. It remains unclear whether or not the Tesuque tribe wants more interaction with non-Natives, or whether the non-Native population has an interest in Tesuque culture and tradition. Whatever the temperature of contemporary cross-cultural relationships may be, people do seem to understand one another on some level. Hena’s father used to tell him as a child, “Everybody puts their pants on like you do.”
Saturday’s event was not listed on the calendar of santafenm.gov, santafe.org. The event was listed on SFCCC calendar and had a projected attendance of 50 people; a rough estimate of those in attendance numbered about 80 people.