It was something the city of Santa Fe had never dared to think about. People from many different organizations had come together with one idea in mind, the abolishment of the Entrada Fiesta. The history behind this fiesta is one of colonial genocide and imperial settlement by the conquistador Diego de Vargas. The Entrada is a reenactment of the 1680s-1690s “surrender” of the Pueblo peoples.
The participants, including myself, started out with high concerns and anxiety about this protest. Santa Fe is the state capital of New Mexico and one of the first colonial settlements in the western United States for over 200 years. The Red Nation organizers had received calls early in the week from the city police asking about our presence at the fiesta and how we were going to protest. Following our arrival at the church’s downtown park, which is a sacred site for the Pueblo people which was covered over by the Spaniard’s church, the contingent of protesters met a heavy police presence on both foot and bicycles at every entrance of the park.
We gathered with our organizations to have a small briefing about how we wanted the protest to go, going over safety concerns. The police came into the briefing to voice concerns about “our safety” and use of equipment. After this we organized into two groups to provide maximum coverage and flank the incoming procession. With a prayer from one of the organizations’ leader we started out from the park and into the street.
Soon the anxiety and doubts melted away and we stood together as one in solidarity. We knew that this would be a pivotal moment in Santa Fe’s history. The march had begun with people standing in awe as we went down the street with our banner raised high and our voices joining in unison. From disbelief to hatred, bystanders showed a wide array of emotions. The idea of Native Americans being token show items in Santa Fe had vanished before their eyes. The voice of the Pueblo people was being heard in chants and seen on picket signs for the entire plaza.
The police monitored the protesters from the beginning of the march. The police set up a sniper position on the building from next to the stage directly across from us. Bicycle mounted police roamed the outside of the march and foot patrols weaved in and out of the march of protesters. Police presence did little to stop the violent aggression between two older men and Red Nation leader Jennifer Marley.
Small pockets of the crowd had been aggressive towards the march, shouting in support of the Entrada, shouting racial slurs at organizers. The march went around the plaza once before the procession started. The riders representing the Spaniards approached on horseback, but the horses ended up getting spooked from the chants and shouts. The fiesta was also drowned out by the chants of protest during the “ceremonial event.” With the ending of the event, we started another march and were met with more hostility. With the second march complete we moved back to the park. We were covered by local media groups, many of whom spoke in great length with organization leaders.
Our voices were heard loud and clear by both fiesta goers and state officials that we want the abolishment of the Entrada.