Conquistador means “conqueror” – not benevolent grandfather!


Channing Concho, left, and American Horse photograph themselves after a statue of Juan de Onate was removed in June in Albuquerque

The movement for racial justice is toppling statues across America, from Robert E. Lee to Christopher Columbus — and now the Spanish conquistador, Juan de Oñate, the first European to colonize the arid wilderness of New Mexico, the state’s first colonial governor and a despot who inflicted misery on Native Americans…

Time was when there were costumed pageants in the cities of Santa Fe and Española that reenacted the entry of Spanish governors into New Mexico, but both have been permanently cancelled after protests that they were culturally offensive to Native Americans.

Authorities have removed both statues and put them in storage, with their futures uncertain…

Oñate left Mexico in 1598 with a long caravan of settlers, missionaries, and livestock to establish a colony at his own expense, with the goal of subjugating and Christianizing the Indigenous population and extracting all the riches he could. He made land grants to his colonists and empowered them to collect tribute from the forced labor of Indians.

In the most infamous episode, Spanish soldiers who had demanded cornmeal and blankets from the Indians of the Acoma Pueblo were attacked by native warriors. Twelve soldiers died in the fighting. In retribution, Oñate declared a war “by fire and blood” against the Acoma. Soldiers returned, scaled the soaring mesa — now known as “Sky City” an hour west of Albuquerque — and slaughtered at least 800 warriors, women and children. The Spaniards enslaved most of the survivors, and cut a foot off of 24 young men as a warning to other rebellious pueblos.

Most folks in any generation have portions of their ancestral culture that might make them proud – if that’s important to you. Certainly, any group that fashioned and led a fight for freedom, against tyranny, is worth respecting. Murder and exploitation aren’t characteristics worth celebrating.

Shooting at protest supporting removal of Conquistador statue

UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST

Gunfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice.

As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, shouting matches erupted over proposals to take it down and a man was shot, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in.

The man, who was not identified, was taken away in an ambulance, and the police took into custody several members of a right-wing militia who were dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style rifles. It was not clear whether any of them had fired the shot, or whether they were merely being questioned…

Earlier in the day, authorities in the northern town of Alcalde removed a different statue of Oñate, whose brutal rule as provincial governor put into motion centuries of Spanish rule in the region…

Oñate’s period as governor was marked by a violent repression considered severe even by the standards of his time. He killed 800 Indigenous people in Acoma Pueblo and ordered his men to cut off the foot of at least 24 male captives. Spanish authorities convicted him on charges of excessive violence and cruelty, permanently exiling him from New Mexico

The statue in Alcalde that was removed on Monday gained notoriety decades ago when the right foot of the statue was cut off in a secretive act of protest…

At one point during the protest, Oñate’s foot even made a surprise appearance. Three men wearing masks carried the bronze foot, taken all those years ago, to the entrance of Tiguex Park near the statue, and briefly held the foot aloft.

Yup. That’s the Oñate foot. [Photo from anonymous source] I’ll update this as we get more info about who’s been arrested, etc..

UPDATE:

APD reports they have arrested 31-year-old Stephen Ray Baca in connection to the shooting. Baca is being booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on a charge of aggravated battery. APD reports the shooting is an active investigation. It remains unclear if Baca was a part of the armed militia group…

Witnesses at the scene tell KRQE News 13 dozens of individuals called APD for help before the shooting as tensions rose but police arrived after the protester was shot…

The clown show vigilantes calling themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard were there with long guns to – in their own words – “defend the statue”.