Is it really over?
A spokesman for assorted negotiating parties said this week that the Entrada is finished.
He said there will no longer be a re-enactment on the Santa Fe Plaza of Spaniard Don Diego de Vargas’ reoccupation of Santa Fe in 1692, 12 years after the Pueblo Revolt pushed the Europeans out of what is now northern New Mexico.
At this writing, we haven’t heard from a couple of key players in the debate over the Entrada, which has drawn increasing numbers of protesters over the past three years when staged during the Fiesta de Santa Fe in September.
The Fiesta Council and the Caballeros de Vargas, which organizes the Entrada, have defended the religious pageant where de Vargas’ veneration of the Virgin Mary is prominent. They say it was intended to celebrate a peaceful moment in history between Spaniards and the pueblos, as well as the origins of northern New Mexico’s cultural mix.
Script changes in recent years made the Indian characters in the Entrada stronger and had them standing up for their own religion.
But Native American activists, and many others, saw the Entrada as celebrating conquest, by violence and the threat of violence, and oppression of indigenous people.
At Entrada protests, they shout the name of Pueblo Revolt leader Po’pay, while the Fiesta includes a procession from the cathedral to the Cross of the Martyrs, which commemorates Franciscan friars killed in Po’pay’s rebellion.
The Entrada takes place on the city-owned Plaza, gets city taxpayer support and is secured by Santa Fe police (who arrested eight people last year after establishing separate “free speech zones” for protesters).
This week, Regis Pecos, a former Cochiti Pueblo governor and co-director of the Leadership Institute at Santa Fe Indian School, said discussions over the past 10 months with representatives from the All Pueblo Council of Governors, the mayor’s office, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the Fiesta Council and the Caballeros recently culminated in a decision to end the Entrada.
Pecos, designated to speak for the group, called the agreement a “profoundly significant event in the history of New Mexico.”
“I think it’s unequivocally the consensus that for the health and benefit of the public, it’s an event that is best that we let go of because of the controversy that it continues to create,” he said.
A lot of Santa Feans undoubtedly will be sad about the loss of the Entrada, which had become so woven into local affairs that portraying de Vargas in the pageant was a stepping stone to political success, including in recent years. Until March, there were three de Vargases among the nine people serving as city councilor or mayor.
But the pageant’s continued performance in a publicly owned space had become untenable. What the Entrada’s organizers saw as a celebration of local culture and history couldn’t stand against today’s celebration of diversity and inclusion.
As we’ve said before, the Fiesta Council and the Caballeros shouldn’t be lumped in with the throwbacks or outright evil people who, in other parts of the country, have a soft spot for or outright idolize or want a return to a racist past. But an event that, any way you dress it up, in fact celebrates subjugation of Native people and thanks a higher power for success in that endeavor, is not proper grounds for a community celebration now.
Pecos suggests some kind of new event may take the Entrada’s place to promote reconciliation and diversity. Maybe it should just be something that’s fun.
The Entrada was started in 1911 as part of the 400-year-old Fiesta, as a tourist attraction. We don’t need it anymore.