Morning Word

Santa Fe Governing Body Approves “Safe Spaces” Plan for Statues

Child welfare advocates see progress despite stats

Morning Word

Council passes safe statue plan

The Santa Fe governing body last night unanimously approved a resolution co-sponsored by Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and City Councilors Pilar Faulkner, Michael Garcia and Carol Romero Wirth that will place controversial statues representing Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas and two Tesuque runners from the Pueblo revolt in the New Mexico History Museum and the Santa Fe Convention Center, respectively. The plan, announced last month, provoked some criticism, which the mayor addressed yesterday afternoon in a statement issued in advance of last night’s meeting, saying “small but vocal” groups oppose the plan, which makes the statues viewable but safe from vandalism. In the case of the De Vargas statue, he writes, because to them it represents “the return to Santa Fe of European colonizers who perpetrated genocide on the Indigenous Native American people.” For the people who oppose the statue of the Pueblo runners, the Pueblo uprising “was a bloody revolt that took the lives of hundreds of Spanish priests, women, men, and children.” In most cities, he continued, displaying such “historically significant” statues wouldn’t be possible, given how polarized the viewpoints have become. At last night’s meeting, several people spoke during the public comment portion, even though the resolution itself did not include a public comment period, expressing a range of viewpoints about the plan. Co-sponsor Garcia noted he would have preferred to keep both statues together, but said “that doesn’t mean that we can’t utilize both of these statues as a tool.” Moreover, he added, “This is ultimately a moment that I truly believe that our ancestors left for us, and we carry the weight for future generations to ensure we do this process right; we carry out the process with justice, and 100 years from now I pray that whoever is in our community at that time says, ‘They made the right decision by moving forward,’ and I hope that’s what we’re doing tonight is moving forward.”

Child welfare advocates see progress despite stats

While New Mexico remains in last place nationwide for child well being, according to a national study, local advocates say that ranking doesn’t tell the full story. The 2024 Kids Count Data Book, released earlier this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, showed New Mexico 50th in the US for the third year running. “We understand how it can be frustrating to see the ranks stay the same, but we want to remind people that this data reflects 2022, not present-day,” New Mexico Voices for Children Executive Director Gabrielle Uballez tells SFR. “It’s a dataset where we expect some of the indicators to be getting worse, and it’s not all on New Mexico. That was the year a lot of federal tax credits for kids expired—Congress allowed them to expire—so, that was a big financial blow to a lot of families.” Individual metrics provide a more accurate picture of New Mexico’s current status, she says. For instance, voters in 2022 passed Constitutional Amendment 1, which made New Mexico the first state to guarantee a right to early childhood education and allocated nearly $150 million per year from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education and care. “You’re not going to see our universal childcare policies that were enacted and implemented in the last two years reflected in the long-term impacts for kids, and we won’t see them in the next three to five years, because those changes take time to see in data,” she says. “That’s going to change the lives of kids in a pretty profound way.”

Making NM roads safer

New Mexico has among the highest number of motor vehicle-related fatalities in the country and the highest rate of fatalities for pedestrians involved in motor vehicle crashes, according to state transportation analysts, who yesterday presented an update on work to make state roads safer to members of the Legislative Finance Committee. All of the fatal “hot spots” for fatal auto and pedestrian crashes are in Albuquerque, but the state maintains an online dashboard with more data about crashes by category and county; the dashboard shows all of Santa Fe’s worst crashes unfold along Cerrillos Road. SFR delved into the dangerous driving patterns on Cerrillos Road this week, along with the push by some residents for the city to spend more money on traffic safety measures and equipment. SFR filed a public records request with the City of Santa Fe and SFPD for traffic-related incidents and complaints over the last two years. While the request was not fully answered by press time, officials returned roughly 50 police reports documenting drag-racing and other illegal activities. At the state level, DOT told lawmakers it plans to roll out an initiative called Target Zero New Mexico that will aim to eliminate auto and pedestrian fatalities by 2050.

Santa Ana Pueblo reclaims ancestral lands

The Pueblo of Santa Ana and Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Southwest Regional Office yesterday announced Tamaya Kwii Kee Nee Puu, 60,000 acres of ancestral land on the Pueblo, has been signed into trust. “The Pueblo of Santa Ana is thrilled to reacquire our ancestorial land and take stewardship of the property to preserve our historical and cultural activities,” Santa Ana Pueblo Gov. Myron Armijo says in a statement. “The 60,000 acres is being signed into a trust to support our posterity and the future generations of our Pueblo.” According to a news release, the land is bordered on the west side by Rio Puerco and the Pueblo of Laguna; on the east by Rio Rancho Estates; on the north side by the Pueblo of Zia; and on the south by private lands (see photos in the Albuquerque Journal). A new, moving documentary from New Mexico PBS show Our LandAncestral Connections, delves into the story of the Pueblo of Santa Ana’s $30 million purchase of its ancestral lands and its use of “traditional knowledge and western science” to heal the land and unite its people. Producer and environmental journalist Laura Paskus spoke to KUNM about the project last April.

Listen up

SFR’s top culture pick this week, the CURRENTS New Media Festival, returns to the Railyard this weekend with an array of VR, AR and interactive experimental pieces from 95 artists working in different genres and mediums. One of them, Filmmaker Stryder Simms, talks with Cline’s Corner podcast host Lynn Cline about his short animated program Sirius Incoming, which debuts at this weekend’s festival.

All hail Gila

The New York Times muscles in on the 100th-year celebration for the Gila Wilderness, with Frugal Traveler columnist Elaine Glusac exploring the area, partially on horseback via a bay named Sino. “Red rock walls rose beside us as we wove back and forth across a shallow creek separating ponderosa pine on the shady south side of Rocky Canyon from barrel cactus in the cliff crevasses on the desertlike north face,” Glusac writes. “I leaned against his neck as Sino climbed a steep ridge that led to a hilltop savannah of pinyon, juniper and groves of tentacled cane cholla cactus tipped in faded yellow fruit. Surrounding them, forested mountains were unblemished by buildings or roads.” The Gila remains remote by design, and Glusac’s story—accompanied by many wonderful photographs—interweaves historical and natural interpretation of the area from local experts, including the Forest Service’s head wrangler, Zachary Law, who rides with Glusac on a ride into Rocky Canyon. Law, she writes, possesses an “encyclopedic knowledge” of the Gila’s flora and fauna and identifies “mountain lion prints in sandy washes, wolf scat on the trail and a pine tree denuded of its bark by bears searching for the acorns that woodpeckers had stashed there.”

Ride ‘em cowboy/girl

No, we did not score tickets to last night’s sold-out Albuquerque show with Big Thief vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Adrianne Lenker, but we are enjoying the new music video for “Evol,” off her latest release, Bright Future, directed by Erin Birgy and featuring Lenker dressed as a cowboy in the New Mexico desert. In the video notes, Lenker writes, “we recognize & honor the navajo, tiwa, apache and pueblo nations, current, past & future who steward & love the land we visited to create this video.” On Instagram, she notes, “It was a beautiful experience getting to go to New Mexico and hang with some good pals and make the video,” and thanks several people involved, concluding, “Thanks especially to that beautiful land. It was so inspiring to be within its wild gorgeousness.” Speaking of cowboys and gals, Cowgirl magazine spotlights, as a “current obsession,” custom brand necklaces from The Winged Heart in Santa Fe. “Rebekah Chamberlin, the jewelry designer behind The Winged Heart, has a serious eye for design and creating art that feels personal to the wearer’s style. Her latest creation, custom brand necklaces formed from silver, are the perfect addition to her artistic offerings—and something we’d like to wear every day!” the magazine writes.

Heat of the moment

The National Weather Service forecasts a hot day today, with record-high temperatures in some parts of the state. In Santa Fe, a heat advisory goes into effect from noon through 7 pm, with high temperatures allegedly reaching the high 90s. Cooler and wetter weather expected to return tomorrow. Until then, the state health department also has issued a heat advisory and reminder to take precautions as temperatures climb, noting 224 emergency room visits since April 1 for heat-related illnesses. “Protect yourself and others when it’s hot outside by staying cool, staying hydrated and knowing the symptoms” of heat-related illness, NM Health Chief Medical Officer Miranda Durham says in a statement. Learn more here.

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