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Coronado Historic Site should be renamed

Adobe blocks show where the original walls of Kuaua pueblo were located at Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

Adobe blocks show where the original walls of Kuaua pueblo were located at Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

Today, the ancient Tiwa Pueblo at Kuaua has a museum and visitor center. Coronado State Monument was changed to the current Coronado Historic Site by the state of New Mexico. In August 2017, a metal detection survey revealed evidence of such artifacts as lead balls, crossbow arrow tips, copper and chain-mail armor. New discoveries by archaeologist Dr. Clay Matthews confirm Coronado’s presence in 1540. Coronado’s own testimony concerning his expedition as found in his written journals include his battles at pueblo sites. At his battle at Arenal, 200 pueblo Indians were burned at the stake. At Moho, Coronado ordered the hands and noses of his victims be cut off.

The Spanish battle cry “Santiago!” echoes an eternity of human suffering justified in the name of Saint James. Coronado was later put on trial for war crimes and acquitted. Historians note that in 1554, eight and a half years after his acquittal, Coronado died of a contagious disease at the age of 43. Poetic justice.

It is only right that demand be made to change the name of the Coronado Historic Site to its original Tiwa name of Kuaua. The name Coronado will forever symbolize political power and will greet visitors with a brutal history of violence. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado does not deserve to be honored. Shame on New Mexico.

In this day it is possible to be proud of our ancestors’ sacrifices, determination and resolve. The oral history of the Pueblo of Santa Ana, as recounted in “The People, the Pueblo and the History of Tamaya” by Bayer & Montoya, UNM 1994, tells the story. Floyd Montoya, a tribal member, died years ago. His contributions to that book are greatly appreciated.

In 1709 and continuing through the 18th century, Santa Ana was the first pueblo to successfully purchase its former lands back from the Spanish. The best documented purchase in 1763 is of the Ranchito Grant from Quiterra Contreras, the widow of Cristobal Martinez Gallego, and her son Mariano Martinez, who were willing to sell to Santa Ana Pueblo. The purchase brought the reservation to its present size of about 79,000 acres on both sides of the Rio Grande. Documents relating to Santa Ana’s purchase are in the official records of the Spanish archives.

Our ancestors made wise decisions so we might retain what little land we now hold in trust. Now it is time for the younger generation to carry on the struggle to protect our sacred lands from the encroachment of the outside world.

Spanish archives indicate there were 99 Indian pueblos in New Mexico. Eighty pueblos were destroyed and never repopulated. There was a 90% decrease in population within a period of only 20 years. Today the 20 pueblos remain intact – the Tigua Nation in El Paso is the 20th member of the All Pueblo Council of Governors. By 1690 the Santa Ana population was at 90 survivors. The 2020 Census now totals 900 tribal members.

A testament to our survival is a written narrative in an official scenic historical marker that needs to be revised to tell our story. Change the narrative.

The effects of historical traumas are still evident today by the secrecy under which our religious beliefs are practiced. After four centuries of resistance, our ceremonies are still strong and vibrant. The Keres language is still spoken. The sacred kivas are still intact. We are now battling this new challenge – the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 – to protect our people, our elders. We are fulfilling our ancestors’ wishes, with their core values guiding us spiritually as it did them in 1540. “Ammu Hanu Sicti, Ammu Hanu Sicti.” We mourn for our people. We are still here among the living.

The opinions expressed in this commentary do not represent the Santa Ana Tribal Council nor the All Indian Pueblo Council of Governors.


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