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Jemez Bans Halloween Tradition

By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer
          Trick or treat?
        On Jemez Pueblo, neither.
        Tribal officials have decided to permanently ban the activity at the heart of Halloween, Jemez Gov. Joshua Madalena told the Journal on Wednesday.
        The reason is, essentially, two-fold: A bunch of costumed kids walking around poorly-lit, unpaved roads at night is dangerous and, besides that, the custom doesn't fit anywhere in the native spirituality and culture practiced on the pueblo.
        "We want to continue to promote our traditional way of life in Jemez Pueblo," Madalena said. "Our day is All Souls Day ... where we pay tribute to our ancestors and our families that have passed on to the other world and ask them to continue to bless us."
        No one will be arrested for trick-or-treating, which has been a common activity on Jemez Pueblo through the years, the governor said. But Jemez police and tribal officials will be out to enforce the ban and ask anyone trick-or-treating to go home.
        Madalena said Jemez families are welcome to take their children trick-or-treating in nearby cities such as Rio Rancho or Albuquerque.
        He said he has been discussing the ban with the Jemez Tribal Council, public safety officials and pueblo elders for at least a few months.
        Contrary to media reports, he said, the decision was not born from speculation that the brutal Sept. 29 killing of 21-year-old pueblo resident Matthew Panana had been some sort of cult ritual.
        "The killing itself was a rude awakening for the tribe to see that anything can happen on our pueblo," Madalena said, adding that the killing became a factor in the public safety portion of the decision to ban trick-or-treating.
        Lucas Michael Ray Steven Toledo, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in Panana's death, according to the FBI.
        Toledo, who also lives on the pueblo, is accused of stabbing Panana multiple times in the back and face, kicking him in the face and beating him with a shovel at Toledo's home. Toledo also slashed Panana's throat and abdomen.
        Because of the gruesome nature of the killing, Madalena said, the FBI looked into the possibility that the killing may have been ritualistic.
        "But the more information I have from the feds, the more it appears that wasn't the case," he said.
        Still, Madalena said, public safety concerns played a big part in deciding to ban trick-or-treating.
        "Highway 4 lays through the heart of our pueblo," he said. "When children are out trick-or-treating along the highway and people are speeding — I don't want any of my people hurt or injured.
        "And my pueblo is not conducive to a lot of people walking around at night. There are no street lights, no paved roads within the historical area of the pueblo."
        Officials acknowledge the tribe's need to exist within Western culture, Madalena said, but trick-or-treating simply doesn't jibe with ongoing efforts to preserve the indigenous ways.
        "If native people lose their ways and their language, they lose their identities," he said.
        Halloween on Saturday?
        Jemez Pueblo isn't the only place in New Mexico with Halloween controversy this year.
        Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz had proposed last week that children go trick-or-treating on Saturday night (Oct. 30) instead of Sunday (Oct. 31), according to the Las Vegas Optic.
        But the newspaper reports that the mayor now says the city had a change of heart after getting protests about the proposal to move trick-or-treating from Sunday to Saturday.
        Ortiz told the Optic that City Hall was bombarded with calls from people saying they wanted the custom honored on Sunday.

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