SANTA FE – John Torres Nez took the board that oversees Santa Fe Indian Market by surprise when he sent its members an email on Sunday telling them he was resigning, according to board member Stephine Poston.
“All of us were a little shocked because he brings such a great working relationship with the artists. It’s going to be hard to replace that,” she said on Tuesday.
Poston, who was identified as the board spokesman on this matter by staff of the Southwest Association for Indian Arts, said she was not aware of any previous indication from Torres Nez (Diné), who was SWAIA co-director, to the board that he intended to leave.
“In the letter I saw, he just said he needed to pursue a new direction,” she said. Asked whether there were any financial problems, Poston said, “At this point, the board is still pulling together and sorting through everything. There’s no hard information on any of that.”
Efforts to reach Torres Nez for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. A woman who returned a phone call to Torres Nez asked for questions to be provided by e-mail, but there was no subsequent response to submitted questions.
Torres Nez’s appointment in October 2012 drew an enthusiastic response from supporters. Many people expressed regrets over his resignation in comments on his Facebook page Tuesday.
Steve LaRance wrote, “John, Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the artists of Indian Market. I have a sense that you resigned for this reason. You and your staff have brought the Market to new heights. I am hoping that this is just a terrible April fools joke but regardless you have the support and love of the artists.”
Arthur L. Cruz wrote, “Sorry to hear this, who is the driving voice behind this departure. It’s time to rethink and move market into Indian country, where our people will benefit.”
“Now if somebody will just stand up to the gov,” wrote Kent McManis. “Thanks for having a backbone.” Torres Nez recently criticized Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto of a legislative appropriation for Indian Market.