Morning Word

NM Grapples with Indian Boarding School Legacy

Artist, state settle on fate for “Multicultural” mural

COVID-19 by the numbers

On Friday, New Mexico health officials reported 714 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 248,788. DOH has designated 218,310 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 199 new cases, followed by Eddy County with 48 and San Juan County with 47. Santa Fe County had 35 new cases.

The state also announced 14 additional deaths, 12 of them recent; there have now been 4,749 fatalities statewide. As of Friday, 314 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 46 fewer than the day prior. DOH is expected to provide a three-day update this afternoon on cases, hospitalizations and fatalities.

Currently, 79.7% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 70.2% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-to-17-year-old age group, 63.4% people have had at least one dose and 53.7% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 90.5% have had at least one dose and 80.4% are fully vaccinated.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

NM DOH will release booster plan this week

By the end of October, 70% of New Mexicans who received a full series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible for booster shots. The state health department on Friday announced that the state’s Medical Advisory Team had reviewed and endorsed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for the booster for that vaccine. Those guidelines state anyone who had the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago and is: 65 years and older; a resident in a long-term setting; or 50 to 64 years old with certain underlying medical conditions should receive a booster. In addition, people 18 to 49 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain underlying medical conditions may receive a booster at least six months after completing the primary series, as may people 18 to 64 years old who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional settings. DOH says it will release plans early this week on how eligible New Mexicans can schedule their booster shots; only people who received a Pfizer vaccine are eligible at this time and neither the CDC nor DOH recommend mixing vaccines.

NM grapples with boarding school legacy

National reckoning with the United States’ troubled legacy of federal boarding schools came home over the weekend, as city and Native American leaders gathered in Albuquerque Saturday at a memorial event for those buried at the Albuquerque Indian School Cemetery at 4-H Park. A plaque memorializing the students disappeared earlier this year; now, Albuquerque city officials plan to use ground-penetrating radar to research the area, and to mark the park with orange flags—the color designated to symbolize the movement. “This is important because we have an opportunity to learn and understand from our collective history and make meaningful change,” Rebecca Riley, who is from Acoma Pueblo and serves on the city’s Commission on American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, says. “We deserve to understand the truth, determine our steps forward, and owe the Native children and staff who never returned home to do better.” Santa Fe also has a history with such boarding schools: the Santa Fe Indian School on Cerrillos Road, which is now run by the 19 Pueblo Governors of New Mexico rather than the federal government; and the Ramona Indian School and St. Catherine Indian School, which are long closed. While there are reportedly vague rumors of unmarked graves on these sites, no known evidence exists at this time.

State reaches settlement on mural

New Mexico’s Department of Cultural Affairs and artist Gilberto Guzman have settled an ongoing dispute over the fate of Guzman’s “Multicultural” mural. Daniel Zillman, DCA director of communications and marketing, tells SFR the mural on the wall of the former Halpin Building at the corner of Guadalupe Street and Montezuma Avenue—site of the forthcoming Vladem Contemporary satellite branch of the New Mexico Museum of Art—will be removed. But Guzman will “create a scale painting on panels of ‘Multicultural’ for permanent display inside the lobby of the New Mexico Museum of Art Vladem Contemporary, where it will be fully accessible without the price of admission,” Zillman says. A US District Court judge on Friday signed off on the agreement and dismissed Guzman’s lawsuit against the DCA. With the agreement, Zillman says both DCA and Guzman, “affirm to the community our respect for art, culture, history and each other, while looking forward to honoring the mural and building a contemporary museum of art for the citizens of New Mexico.” Guzman could not be reached for comment.

Listen up

The most recent episode of the Santa Fe Art Institute’s monthly Tilt podcast examines how artists use rituals to inform and enrich their creative practices, and to connect to larger communities, identities and places. Guests include: 2019 SFAI Story Maps Fellow Sara Daniele Rivera, a Cuban/Peruvian artist, writer, translator and educator from Albuquerque, recipient of the 2018 Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry; and interdisciplinary artist, doula, reiki master, writer and mother Tintawi Kaigziabiher, who is the non-fiction editor for the Santa Fe Literary Review; member of Earthseed Black Arts Alliance; an artist with Vital Spaces; and a former fellow with SFR’s nonprofit journalism program.

Baby steps

The timing of human migration in the early Americas remains unresolved, scientists say, but a new study provides evidence from excavated surfaces in White Sands National Park that such movement dates back to the Ice Age—approximately 23,000 years. “I think this is probably the biggest discovery about the peopling of America in a hundred years,” Ciprian Ardelean, an archaeologist at Autonomous University of Zacatecas in Mexico, tells the New York Times. Ardelean, who was not involved in the work, notes: “I don’t know what gods they prayed to, but this is a dream find.” Prior to this discovery, the oldest evidence of human migration dated back about 13,000 years, based on another New Mexico discovery: the oldest known tools, found in Clovis. But since the 1970s, researchers such as Ardelean have been publishing potential older evidence of humanity’s presence in North America, again with signs of tools. The White Sands discovery, however, involves footprints, first found by park manager David Bustos in 2009. Since then, scientists have found thousands of them across 80,000 acres of the park. “In other words,” the Times writes, “the people who left the footprints walked around White Sands about 10,000 years before the Clovis people. The youngest footprints, the researchers estimated, dated to about 21,130 years ago.” The discovery, archaeologist Ruth Gruhn (also not involved in the study), says: “is a bombshell.” Scientists are continuing research at White Sands, racing against the clock before erosion erases remaining evidence.

All’s not fair

The Washington Post examines the impact vaccine mandates are having at large-scale events, focusing on New Mexico’s State Fair. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced mid-August that attendees would be required to show proof at the fair, which ran Sept. 9-19. At the Fair, the Post reports, “the barns that are typically packed with animals entered in the state’s premiere youth livestock contest were quiet. Resting in pens were a sleepy pig and a few sheep there only for display, not awards.” Meanwhile, at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair Grounds, hundreds of children and others gathered for an alternative livestock show. The “fractured” state fair, the Post writes, was “emblematic of the latest stage of a pandemic still fomenting division months after the release of vaccines that were supposed to end it.” The fair’s general manager Dan Mourning tells the Post the mandate caused some scrambling and, ultimately, the fair canceled the livestock show. “We knew immediately that there were people that were not going to be making our party this year,” says Mourning, who described himself as “dismayed” by the loss of the youth livestock component but also supportive of the mandate itself. At both the fair and the alternative fair, the Post finds a variety of views, both in favor and against vaccinations. The unifying sentiment appears to be that children ended up caught in the middle of what turned into a political fight. “The young men and women that have worked so hard for that deserve to have their show,” Mourning says. “They’re pawns in this.” Mourning continues: “The state fair is for all New Mexicans. And we hope next year all New Mexicans can come back and enjoy the show.”

Rain return?

Cross your fingers, Santa Fe: We might see some rain this week. The National Weather Service forecasts scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon today, with a 50% chance for precipitation. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny with a high near 70 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. We may see a little more rain tonight and for the rest of the week.Thanks for reading! As someone with more T-shirts than she needs, The Word enjoyed reading about novelist Haruki Murakami’s T-shirt collection.

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