Protest over Onate monument
ccarrico at nimbus.ocis.temple.edu
Tue Feb 18 07:24:20 MST 2003
A Proclamation will be read by the Southwest Indigenous Alliance (SWIA)
Opposing the Commemoration of Violence and Oppression.
Wednesday, February 19th 2003
2:00 PM at The Albuquerque Museum
Key Issues to be Addressed:
ú 4 « stories high statue of Onate in El Paso, TX.
ú Reactivation of opposition to the 60 ft. monument to be located at
Contact: swia_nm at yahoo.com
Forced colonization of any Peoples throughout the history of mankind is
marked by similarities of force and violence with no regard or respect to
existing Indigenous cultures. The Spanish colonization was likewise...brutal
and savage. Don Juan de Onate and his heavily armed expedition annihilated
whole Native villages, while plundering and looting many more. Lust for land,
wealth and conversion of the Indigenous peoples to Christianity were Onates'
motivations, and these motivations were fueled by greed and violence.
Terrorism reigned as the soldiers, accompanied by Franciscan Friars, murdered
citizens, forcefully confiscated lands and imposed a foreign system of
religious belief upon our People. The Spaniards considered us godless and
barbaric, but we held on to a beautiful belief system which has sustained us
for thousands of years and continues to sustain us to this day. Our religion,
precious and sacred, was never abandoned. Our People were told that our
beliefs were wrong and were violently forced to accept Christianity. Yet,
from the very beginning of forced occupation, the People resisted.
In December of 1598, Acoma warriors resisted this terrorism and defended
the land and people in a battle, which ended with the death of Onate's nephew
and 10 Spanish soldiers. In retribution of his nephew's death, Onate attacked
the village on the rock mesa of Acoma in the bitter cold of January 1599.
This epic battle lasted 3 days resulting in the slaughter of hundreds of Acoma
men, women and children. On?ate, true to the barbaric nature of his rule,
executed the Acoma leaders. He cut off the right foot of every male over 25
years of age, and sentenced women over 25 years of age to 25 years of slavery.
For these barbaric acts, along with his ineptitude as a leader, Onate was
sentenced by the Spanish Crown to perpetual banishment from New Mexico and
exiled for four years from Mexico City.
In August of 1680, surrounding Indigenous villages, now bearing the
Spanish label "Pueblo", were joined by Navajo (Dine) and Apache Peoples in a
revolt against the Catholic Church and Spanish oppression. The Pueblo Revolt
of 1680 drove the intruders from New Mexico. The action was absolute, with
every attempt made to destroy all things of foreign origin, including churches
and government buildings. The People then bathed in the rivers to cleanse
themselves of Christian baptism.
For 12 years, the territory known as New Mexico was restored to its
original occupants, and the land was void of Conquistador presence. The
world, and especially New Mexico, should acknowledge this victory over
terrorism and oppression and honor Pope, the leader of this heroic
We hear the question over and over again, "Why can't we just let it go
and move on?" In an ideal world, all peoples would work together to heal old
wounds and mend a broken world. However, the Conquistador mindset still
exists in the Southwest. The healing has not occurred. Monuments such as "La
Entrada" here in Old Town and the El Paso Onate project continue to
commemorate and celebrate the theft of indigenous homelands. Words like
"settlement", "political and cultural contact", "land transfer", "land grant
assignments", "recognition of cultural heritage" are examples of hypocritical
and political doublespeak. It is precisely this mindset which must change
before all peoples can unite in the healing process.
The City of Albuquerque and the City of El Paso, Texas have announced
plans to erect monuments in an attempt to glorify a savage and violent time in
history. In Albuquerque a 60-foot monument, scheduled for 2004 at the
Albuquerque Museum, has been rationalized as "recognition of cultural
heritage". Currently in El Paso, work is being done on a monstrous bronze to
honor Juan de Onate. The statue, designed to be 4 « stories high, and if
completed will be the largest cast bronze in North America. Proponents of the
statue say it is to promote tourism and to bring money to downtown El Paso.
It is significant to note that Onate's motivation was personal greed and
wealth. The present motivation behind the El Paso monument is still money.
Sadly, nothing has changed in the last 400 years.
Planners of the Albuquerque La Entrada project have chosen to ignore
objections from those who protest the glorification of a Spaniard who
epitomizes the Euro-American process of subjugation, genocide of Indigenous
Peoples and theft of our homelands. This is the same discriminatory and
racist mindset that ignores public outcry and continues to push for a road
through the Petroglyphs, a sacred Indigenous site.
In an effort to educate the citizens of Albuquerque, the Southwest
Indigenous Alliance presents a brief accounting of Juan de Onate's trail of
terror through the land now called New Mexico. It must be stressed that Onate
was not the first to settle the area. The land was settled and had been
settled by the People for thousands of years prior to his arrival. If Onate
is to be given credit for anything, he must be given credit for theft of the
land. The People were here. They were already here.
The Southwest, because of its "Conquistador attitude", will remain backward
and narrow-minded, until its governing bodies recognize the validity of
indigenous concerns and stop the idealization and promotion of the terrorists
in our history. With this, We the Southwest Indigenous Alliance, present the
1. That the City of Albuquerque renounce its plans to erect a monument to Juan
de Onate in any public space. The City will serve as a positive influence
upon the social conscience of El Paso, TX in an effort to dissuade that city
from erecting an Onate statue.
2. That the State of New Mexico permanently abandon all future plans to
commemorate and honor Conquistadors.
3. That school books and official literature, recounting the history of New
Mexico and promoting New Mexico, be revised to stress the remarkable
achievements of the Revolt of 1680 and to credit the Resistance of the People.
These revisions will present a true and balanced accounting of the past and
portray the Indigenous point of view of the On?ate expedition.
In this new day, all over this continent, Indigenous Alliances are being
formed. Cultures are uniting and, in this way, may we know that we
are not alone in our Resistance to Racism. May the City Councils of
Albuquerque and El Paso and the State of New Mexico know that our voices will
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