After the recent violent protest at the base of the statue of Juan de Oñate, a Mexico-born “conquistador” and first governor of New Mexico, it appears that for some the removal of the work of art was not enough.
Some are now calling for Albuquerque Public Schools to change the name of an elementary school named for Oñate, saying he didn’t deserve the honor because of some of his actions four centuries ago.
Oñate is known for establishing in 1598 the first permanent settlement of non-indigenous people in what is now the United States and for the exploration of an area from near Wichita, Kansas, to the Gulf of California. He also is known for the violent and extreme measures he ordered or let his men take as he maintained order in the region.
He was recalled to Mexico City in 1607 and convicted of cruelty to both the indigenous residents and the colonists who had followed him north to the Española Valley. Oñate went to Spain to appeal and was absolved of the crimes by King Felipe IV. In 1624, the king appointed him head of all mining inspectors, an important post. He died in Spain in 1626.