Morning Word

Activist Sues Oñate Protest Shooter, Parents

Santa Fe restaurants/chefs among James Beard Award semi-finalists

Activist sues Oñate shooter, parents

Indigenous activist Jacob Johns filed a civil lawsuit this week in state District Court in Rio Arriba County against Ryan Martinez, the man who shot him at an Española rally last year, as well as Martinez’s parents. Martinez remains incarcerated pending trial on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His lawyers argued in court that while the 23-year-old admits shooting Johns at the Sept. 28, 2023 event, he did so in self-defense. Prosecutors in the criminal case and Johns’ new civil case, however, allege Martinez went to a peaceful event with the intention of hurting and killing others. He drove, heavily-armed and wearing a MAGA hat, from his home in Sandia Park to Española, where Indigenous activists had planned a celebration in response to Rio Arriba County’s decision to delay installation of a statue honoring Spanish colonizer Juan de Oñate. Following the shooting, Johns was hospitalized for five weeks and, since returning to his home in Spokane, Washington, continues a painful recovery from damage to his spleen, liver and stomach, the court filing notes. As for Martinez’s parents, the suit alleges they knew their son, who lived in their Sandia Park home, possessed illegal firearms and they allowed him to drive their car to the rally.

James Beard semifinalists include four Santa Fe spots

“Beyond great. Very grateful. Absolutely happy. Very blissful.” That’s how Hue-Chan Karels from Alkeme at Open Kitchen described her response to learning yesterday her new restaurant is among the contenders for this year’s James Beard Awards in the new restaurant category. The James Beard Foundation announced the awards’ semifinalists yesterday, will announce the finalists in early spring and the winners in June. Santa Fe’s semifinalists also include: Dolina’s Annamaria O’Brien and Zacatlán’s Eduardo Rodriguez in the best chef Southwest category and The Compound, co-owned by 2005 James Beard Best Chef of the Southwest Mark Kiffin, in the outstanding restaurant category. “When I think of the restaurants that have won this award—Spago, French Laundry, Emeril’s—to be included in that is...well, we’re proud of the work we do here,” Kiffin tells SFR. “I come in here every day with a feeling that we have to back up who we are, that we have to continue to be relevant. And we’re very much still a local’s restaurant. When we’re busy, it’s our community, our neighbors who make it happen.” Several Albuquerque food establishments also appear among the semifinalists, including The Burque Bakehouse in the bakery category; Bow & Arrow Brewing Co in the outstanding bar category; and Christopher Bethoney from Campo at Los Poblanos in the best chef Southwest category.

Yazzie/Martinez funding bill passes first committee

Legislation that would help fund initiatives to support the state’s efforts to comply with the court rulings in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit—which found the state violated marginalized students’ right to an adequate education—passed its first committee yesterday morning. The House Education Committee voted 7-3 in favor of House Bill 39, which would support bilingual programs in both Spanish and Indigenous languages for those studying K-12 education; create teacher pipelines to increase bilingual-certified teachers; provide culturally and linguistically relevant curricula and instructional materials; support services for students in medical school pathways; and provide culturally appropriate mental and behavioral health training. Several New Mexico universities also would receive targeted funds for culturally-focused teacher programs. “These initiatives are really going to help prepare the next generation of teachers, school administrators and instructional support providers,” University of New Mexico Professor of Native American Studies Lloyd Lee (Diné) said during yesterday’s hearing. “It’s going to develop school curricula and professional development, as well as create bilingual and Native language programs and support schools, districts and tribal communities to meet students’ health and social services’ needs.”

US Sen. Heinrich hosts gun roundtable

Following the introduction of his Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act (GOSAFE Act) at the end of November, US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, yesterday hosted a roundtable discussion at the US Capitol in Washington, DC about the legislation. March Fourth co-hosted the roundtable, whose participants included Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart; actress Melissa Joan Hart; actor Wilson Cruz; ESPN reporter Sarah Spain; mother of Covenant School shooting survivor Melissa Alexander; Marine Corps veteran John Hambley; and fashion designer Whitney Port. “We represent a whole host of political views and life experiences at this table,” Heinrich said in a statement. “And one of the things that Washington, DC does not do well is nuance. You’re either red or you’re blue. You’re either for it or you’re against it.” A gun-owner himself, Heinrich says he believes one can be a gun owner or sportsman “and simultaneously realize that we should not have ubiquitous access to weapons of war in our country.” The GOSAFE Act would: prevent “unlawful modifications of permissible firearms”; mandate that “future gas-operated designs are approved before manufacture”; and prevent “unlawful firearm self-assembly and manufacturing.” In a statement, Stewart noted that for law enforcement “mass casualty events are probably our biggest concern. Especially when we’re talking about being able to reload numerous magazines within a very short period of time. If you have a fixed magazine, that certainly gives law enforcement much more opportunity to move in on a situation and take action before there are more casualties.” A bill modeled on the same principles has been introduced in this year’s state legislative session, with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham citing Heinrich’s bill in advance of the session. The governor also will be part of a news conference this morning held by Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action.

Listen up

Felix D’Bagre (she/they) provides today’s entry into the 2024 Morning Word Playlist Project and writes: “Mmmmm...a golden opportunity to share the music and artists I love with a larger platform, to help put one little brick in their wall of legacy and continuity? Threaten me with a good time. Thanks for letting us share!” Thanks to all of you for contributing! At some point, we intend to assemble these micro-playlists we’re sharing this month into one larger playlist; Until then, find them in the Morning Word archive.

1. “RamaRa” by Alex Serra, Bomba Estéreo, Li Saumet: “Every layer in this song is a vibe. Some days, you need something to remind you of the interconnectedness of all our rhythms and vibrations—this is one of those tracks for me.”2. “Hot Planet” by Snotty Nose Rez Kids: “Another well-kept secret—but they were SXSW headliners and have won several Native/Indigenous music awards across the US and Canada in recent years. They’re phenomenal performers and musicians; their shows are some of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.”3. “Buy You A New Attitude” by Tianna Esperanza: “Tianna’s PHENOMENAL writing and composition talents are the most under-rated and well-kept secret you’ve never heard of. You’re welcome. (Pro Tip: Make a point of seeing her live—she’s one of the most live talented musicians I’ve seen in the last 10 years.)”4. “Estas Lindas Flores” by Lone Piñon: “If you’ve not heard of some of our best local talent, you need to get out from under your rock, honey. Because you’re missing out. This is such a beautiful cover of Antonia Apodaca’s classic Norteño ballad, it’ll draw tears from your grandma’s ashes. The crew has done an amazing job of carrying that homage and honor into the current and contemporary realm—and it’s even more beautiful to hear them perform it live.”

5. “JU$T” by RTJ CUATRO (feat. Pharrell Williams and Zack de la Rocha): “Mmm…I love hip-hop is such an understatement—hip-hop is in my blood. It has the most poignant and shrewd way of calling out hypocrisy, but spinning you around so the sting of being called out lands in a way that is somehow palatable. Lyrical diplomacy at its finest. I mean, if you don’t need a little burn cream for your ass after hearing, ‘Lookit all these slave masters, posing on your dollar’—I worry for you.”

IAIA MFA Creative Writing head receives NEA fellowship

Deborah Jackson Taffa (Kwatsaán/Laguna Pueblo), director of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Creative Writing MFA program, is one of 35 writers nationwide receiving a 2024 $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts writing fellowship, the NEA announced yesterday. This year’s writing fellowships in fiction and creative nonfiction are designed to “enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career development,” a news release notes, with fellows selected through an anonymous review process. (The deadline for the NEA’s next Creative Writing Fellowships, in poetry, is Wednesday, March 13, 2024). Taffa’s debut book, the memoir Whiskey Tender, (HarperCollins) publishes on Feb. 27, 2024, and has received advanced praise from: Zibby Mag: “Most Anticipated Book”; San Francisco Chronicle: “New Book to Cozy Up With,”; Publishers Weekly: Top 10 anticipated memoirs & biographies; The Millions “Most Anticipated,”; and Electric Lit: “Books by Women of Color to Read.” In her personal statement for the NEA, Taffa writes: “Writing is a solitary act fraught with uncertainties. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I love it. But the practice of writing is how I survive in this world. The creation of art takes time, and the freedom to do so is a privilege, especially while raising a family. I’ve often felt invisible in my labors, and I was therefore overwhelmed when I learned that the National Endowment for the Arts had deemed my accounts of Native futures and histories worthy of support…Writing requires focus, and this monetary gift allows me to say no to extra work and burnout. It gives me freedom to slow down, witness, and react to the world one word at a time.”

In addition to the writing fellowships, the NEA yesterday also announced 1,288 grants totaling more than $32 million in all 50 states for Fiscal Year 2024, including 20 in New Mexico, 11 of which went to Santa Fe (including Taffa’s fellowship). The Santa Fe Opera received the largest Santa Fe grant: $65,000 to support the world premiere this summer of The Righteous by composer Gregory Spears and librettist and former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy K. Smith. The NEA awarded the largest grant in New Mexico overall to the National Institute of Flamenco in Albuquerque: $70,000 to support a series of workshops and performances as part of the 37th annual Festival Flamenco Albuquerque. New Mexico organizations overall received a total of $505,000.

Stay awhile

Do Colorado residents really need to be advised to visit New Mexico? Apparently so and, anyway, who are we to argue with the Denver Post? The DP includes Hatch on its list of 24 places for Coloradans to visit in 2024, primarily to help them settle the “great chile debate” that purportedly rages on between Colorado and New Mexico by visiting the “agricultural community that many consider to be the Napa Valley of chiles” (with the added bonus of nearby attractions like White Sands National Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park). Meanwhile, Brand USA, which is some sort of public/private international marketing conglomerate campaign for US travel, includes Santa Fe on its list of “five US destinations that should be on the radar for 2024,” noting Santa Fe is both “mystical” and “eclectic.” If that sounds familiar, it should, because a few weeks ago, we highlighted a write-up of the same exact destinations with the same exact verbiage that appeared in a UK publication called Seen in the City directed at European travelers (see aforementioned international marketing conglomerate). Reader’s Digest, meanwhile, includes Santa Fe—albeit misspelled in the headline—on its list of “50 affordable family vacation ideas that all ages will love,” positing its affordability stems from the chance to visit galleries on Canyon Road for free. The Travel more convincingly places Albuquerque on its list of 12 “surprisingly cheap places” to travel in the US “all year round,” noting the city is “jam-packed with affordable adventures, cheap eats, and free hikes and museums!” Lastly, and with greater aesthetic appeal, Architectural Digest tallies the 59 best Airbnbs in the US (best architecture/design-wise) and includes a $250-per-night “Bali-inspired, two-story abode” in Canones that includes “one bedroom, a deck, a patio with a hammock, a fire pit, and gorgeous views as far as the eye can see.”

If Winter comes can Spring be far behind?

The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement for this neck of the woods, due to an incoming storm system delivering a mix of rain and snow this afternoon through Friday. Here in Santa Fe, chances for snow today are scant—a 10% chance after 5 pm, following a partly sunny day with a high temperature near 44 degrees and north wind around 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon. We have a 50% chance for scattered snow showers tonight after 8 pm, heading into Friday, at which point we may see some more scattered snow and rain showers, with little accumulation. Sounds like Shelley weather to us.

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