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SF Fiesta ceremony to honor those who ‘bring people together’

SANTA FE – A new ceremony recognizing people who “have brought together peoples of all cultures and backgrounds” will be added to the schedule of events for this year’s Fiesta de Santa Fe.

Thomas Baca-Gutierrez, president of the Caballeros de Vargas, said the ceremony will be introduced during this year’s Celebracion de la Communidad de Fe (Celebration of Community Faith), the event that last year replaced the controversial Entrada pageant.

“I believe it will be a great event and we’re hoping to build from it in years to come,” Baca-Gutierrez said Tuesday.

According to a news release, the ceremony will recognize individuals who have worked to bring people together while working to keep their own cultural traditions alive, “especially our Indigenous and Hispanic populations.”

“We are a community where history and respect is honored both within groups and across groups, making us stronger and better because of our diversity,” the release says.

The Caballeros de Vargas is a non-profit Catholic ministry that for decades staged the performance of the Entrada — a reenactment of the Spanish re-occupation of Santa Fe led by Don Diego de Vargas 12 years after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 — on the Plaza during the Fiesta.

Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley and his wife Gail, with the Santa Fe Fiesta Court behind them, join in a prayer during a September 2018 proclamation signing ceremony to resolve controversy surrounding the Entrada pageant. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The Entrada was retired last year after three years of protests led by Native American groups who saw the event as a whitewash of history and a celebration of the Spanish conquest and repression of indigenous culture and religion.

The release says that the ceremony will emphasize “the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the lives of not only Don Diego de Vargas, but all the people who reside and work here and have raised their families for over 300 years.”

Baca said the individuals to be honored at the 2019 Fiesta next month have yet to be selected, but a list of nominees is now under review. He said that initially the Caballeros want to honor people who are still living, but others who have lived in what was once known as ‘Ogap’ ogeh by Native tribes over the centuries will be considered as future honorees.

The news release says that “going forward, the Caballeros will add names to this list of remarkable people who represent the fundamental truth about this City: that we are one community, united in love and friendship.”

The event is scheduled to take place on the city’s historic Plaza at 2 p.m. on Sept. 6, the official opening day of the Fiesta.

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