The beige and heavily weathered Santa Fe Plaza obelisk has been amended by mysterious culture-jammers.
"To the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with resilient Indians in the territory of New Mexico," the monument now reads on its north-facing side. The word "resilient" was written in what appears to be black felt-tip marker, in the space where "savage" was once etched in stone before somebody chiseled it out in the early 1970s.
It's the second time in less than a year that somebody has written their own descriptor in the space. Last year, as summer turned to autumn, a person wrote the word "courageous" in the chiseled-out spot before the city park crews power-washed it away a few months later.
"Any message, inscription, drawing, etc. on any public surface is by definition graffiti," city spokesman Matt Ross told SFR in a January email, explaining that the decision to remove "courageous" wasn't an intentionally political one.
The greying spire thrusting skyward was one of several sites of contention last year, as a movement against racist and antiquated memorials swept Santa Fe and the country. The obelisk, officially unveiled in 1868 as a commemoration of Union soldiers, has offended people for decades, and not just because it's ugly as hell.
In 1973, Native American activists goaded the Santa Fe City Council to add a marker near the obelisk to contextualize and "blunt the wording" of the monument. A year later, the word "savage" was chiseled off the structure, though history has obscured that person's identity.
The obelisk was one of several dozen included in an inventory by the city conducted last year of monuments and events commemorating events in Santa Fe before 1967. The Santa Fe Arts Commission was supposed to produce a final report of all such memorials earlier this year, but it's been delayed several months, according to commission Director Debra Garcia y Griego.
The city framed the upcoming report as a first step to reconciling offensive symbols of the past. Some people in Santa Fe clearly don't feel like waiting any longer.