Pueblo Cultural Center raising funds to buy statue

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center has raised more than half the cost of a $70,000 statue by a Jemez Pueblo artist that symbolizes the 1680 pueblo revolt, and will hold a fundraising run Saturday to raise the rest of the price.

Popé, born in 1630, was a religious leader who witnessed the suffering of pueblo people oppressed by Spaniards and the Catholic Church. He was one of 46 pueblo leaders to organize a revolt against the Spanish; it began Aug. 10, 1680, and is known as the first successful revolution against oppression in North America.

“Ultimately, our objective in acquiring Popé and being able to teach from him is to change what the world knows about contributions people like Popé have made in North American history,” said Travis Suazo, executive director of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The center has already raised about $40,000 through employee payroll contributions, donations from New Mexico Gas Company and other people and organizations, and funds from the center’s for-profit arm, Suazo said.

Clifford Fragua, 57, a member and resident of the Jemez Pueblo who graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and has supported himself as a sculptor since 1976, said in an interview Monday that he spent about five months working on the 6-foot-tall statue from several tons of Tennessee marble and completed it about two and a half years ago.

“I think what’s important is that the sculpture is there and people be aware that it’s on its way to having a permanent home at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center,” he said.

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