Due to an unannounced time change, many of us arrived just as the purveyors of this great lie were leaving the stage. But we gathered nonetheless. And we made our voices heard above the celebratory music and dancing.
By the end of the day, eight people had been arrested for refusing to allow their civil rights to be violated. One brave young indigenous woman, Jennifer Marley, was further brutalized by the police as she was paraded down the streets like a prisoner of war. Six extraordinary people, Nicole Ullerich, Jennifer Haley, Carmen Stone, Sierra Logan, Chad Browneagle and Trent Ward, were arrested for refusing to vacate public space. One lovely man, Julian Rodriguez, was arrested for simply walking across the Plaza while indigenous. Remember their names.
Most of the local newspapers condemned the actions of the “authorities” last year. The archbishop has called for change. Meetings have been held. Proclamations have been made. And yet nothing has changed. Next month, judging will be held to determine who will be the next lead actor in the conquest theater that is the Entrada. And who will be the queen of the genocide parade.
And so, again, we will gather. Peacefully, prayerfully and with good intentions. We will gather not only to protest Santa Fe’s celebration of genocide, but also to call attention to the missing and murdered indigenous women across Turtle Island in Canada. We will march in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter against the epidemic murder of young black men by police. We stand with the Dreamers and immigrants, LGBTQ people, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and all other innocent victims of violence. We will rise to protect Chaco Canyon, Bears Ears and all other sacred sites. We will speak for water protection and seed sovereignty. We will stand for the vulnerable, the voiceless and the invisible.
And so, this year will not only be about the Entrada. It will also be about last year, when the police arrested eight warriors for rising against lies and injustice, for daring to stand up to militarism and state-sanctioned violence. Eight people were arrested and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the charges was later dismissed or dropped. EVERY LAST ONE. The police said one thing. The courts saw something else. Lies upon lies upon lies.
This year will be about a new administration in City Hall. And whether or not they will choose to stand up for what is right.
In a city dependent on tourism for its livelihood, will we continue to allow a celebration of conquest and colonization to take center stage on the Plaza? Conquest and colonization of the very people who draw tourists to this city? Or will it finally be banished to the theater setting it deserves, to the thunderous applause of many, many people in northern New Mexico?
This year will be about standing up for truth and acknowledgment. We stand for our children so they will not have to hear lies told about their ancestors ever again. We stand for our ancestors, because they stood for us. They fought so that we could live peacefully in our homelands. We acknowledge our relatives; the four-legged, winged and crawling relatives. The water and the earth. And we acknowledge that we no longer have to try and speak truth to power. We are the Power.
Ortiz, a member of Ohkay Owingheh, lives in Santa Fe.