Que Viva

New direction for this weekend's Fiesta de Santa Fe focuses on diversity, unity

"We acknowledge the past and its trauma, tragedy, and sorrow; we understand its legacy in the present. We acknowledge wounds older and deeper than any on this continent. On behalf of those from the past who cannot ask forgiveness, we do now."

The words reverberated in a morning gathering at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, where city officials, civic representatives, tribal governors and archdiocesan leaders met to reflect on the year-long process that went into drafting a new proclamation Mayor Alan Webber anticipates will make Northern New Mexico a "national model" for collectively confronting historical truths.

After Webber read the proclamation aloud, which promises "a new era for Santa Fe" following years of intense protests by mostly Indigenous youth and their allies to a conquistador-centric pageant on the Plaza, several leaders sat down to sign it. The hope is that the proclamation will usher in a new, still-developing tradition of genuine reconciliation and cultural inclusivity.

Thomas Baca Gutierrez, this year's president of the Caballeros de Vargas, was the first to lay his signature on the page. The Caballeros have traditionally written the script for the Entrada pageant, which in years past depicted Pueblo people as subservient to Spanish settlers who re-invaded Santa Fe in 1692, 12 years after Natives had kicked the Spanish out of Northern New Mexico. Baca Gutierrez told the gathering that the past year had been full of lengthy but civil dialogue.

"Lose all hope for a better past, but have all hope for a better future," Baca Gutierrez said, quoting Pueblo of Pojoaque Governor Joseph Talachy. "That is what we are doing today, creating a better future."

Among those joining Baca Guiterrez and Webber on the stage were Fiesta Council President Melissa Mascarenas, Santa Fe Archbishop John C Wester and All Pueblo Council of Governors Chairman Paul Torres.

Noticeably absent were people who had been on the front lines of the protest movement to abolish the Entrada, including Jennifer Marley, a young Pueblo woman from San Ildefonso whose violent arrest at the anti-Entrada protest last year intensified scrutiny of the event.

Mascarenas was the only one to explicitly acknowledge the "retirement of the Entrada."  Torres spoke after her, telling the audience that the Pueblo governors felt moved to action after watching the community "be destroyed" by the Entrada performance that "re-opened wounds of the past."

"We know how difficult [retiring the Entrada] must have been," Torres continued. "It will be seen as the most difficult step."

A number of speakers tipped their hats to the diplomatic efforts of Regis Pecos, a member of Cochiti Pueblo who brokered dialogue between the different groups. A swarm of journalists surrounded the stage as the various leaders each sat down to sign the proclamation, which leaders say is the first of its kind since the one in 1712 that enshrined the Fiesta tradition.

Reaction to news in late July that the Entrada would end and new traditions would take its place has been somewhat mixed among the community. Many who identified with the tradition, primarily Catholic-Hispanic people with roots in the original bands of Spanish settlers here, have openly worried about the city losing some of its traditional character.

At the Pregón mass early this morning at Rosario Chapel, Archbishop Wester talked about Jesus Christ representing "an agent of change," subtly encouraging congregants to embrace the changing tide.

"Change is difficult," Wester said. "Human beings get accustomed to things, we get used to things. … The Lord of all life is the one constant."

After the Pregón, members of Po'Pay's Pueblo Dancers gave a performance outside the Chapel, as has happened in years past. According to Dezmundo Marcus, one of the performers, the dance was meant to "signify that cultures can unite and show respect for each other."

Nearby, Richard Lopez watched the performers. Now in his 60s, Lopez has been coming to Fiesta celebrations since he was a child, but this was his first time attending the Pregón. He wasn't very keen on the end of the Entrada.

"History is history, and wrongs have been done on both sides," he explained.

Later in the afternoon, during the time when the Entrada had officially taken place in past years, leaders of some Pueblos and various faith organizations delivered prepared remarks that focused on unity and reconciliation. Po'Pay's Pueblo Dancers opened the ceremony, although they were greeted by a handful of hecklers shouting, "¡Que viva la Entrada!"

In general, however, the short ceremony was exponentially more civil than the raucous Entrada pageant last year. After a performance by the St. Michael's choir and a closing blessing from Adam Lee Ortega y Ortiz, rector at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, one member of the audience summed up the general mood of the crowd: "¡Que viva la gente de Santa Fe unidos!"

Fiesta entertainment continues on the Plaza till 10 pm tonight, and the event resumes from 9 am to 10 pm Saturday, beginning with the Desfile de los Ninos pet parade. Plaza food vendors are open till 5 pm. On Sunday, entertainment opens at 9:30 am and closing ceremonies start at 5:30 pm.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include people on the frontlines of protesting the Entrada in past years.

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