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Photo credit: Manu Rainbird
The Kiva at Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo

Silent tribute to The Kiva’s sacredness

—Manu Rainbird, Councilman, Pueblo of Santa Ana (Tamaya)

Most of you know by now that the cities of Albuquerque and El Paso, Texas, have erected bronze monuments that glorify a violent time in American Southwest History. Albuquerque’s monument, “La Entrada,” depicts the entrance of Spanish Colonists into New Mexico and is placed in front of the Albuquerque Museum of Art in Old Town.

Likewise, reportedly the world largest equestrian bronze statue is approximately three-stories high and was dedicated on April 21, 2007, at the El Paso International Airport, under protest from Indian Rights groups against honoring a “Genocidal Conquistador”—Don Juan de Onate Salazar.

The legacy of controversy continues to challenge the Spanish archives in written accounts of bloody brutality. Who has the right to justify murder?

The momentous events of 2005 and 2007 are all but gone and forgotten. Millions of tax dollars were used to fund these projects.

The Santa Fe Finance Committee voted to dispense with the word “celebration” as a way to describe the City’s four-hundredth birthday and instead call it a commemoration. The event was billed as an “intriguing experience” that had a national and international audience, including King Juan Carlos of Spain.

In retrospect, we have not heard of any monuments honoring the survival of New Mexico’s nineteen pueblos. The Tigua Nation of Ysleta del Sur in El Paso, Texas, is the twentieth member of the All Indian Pueblo Council. Spanish archives indicate there were 99 Indian Pueblos in New Mexico. Eighty of the pueblos were destroyed and never again repopulated. If you travel north from Bernalillo on the Santa Ana Pueblo (Tamaya), you will see a monument of contemporary art to the kiva.

Begun in 2003, The Kiva is formed of adobe, concrete, and cement. No tax dollars were used to fund this project, which is yet to be completed.

This monument of earth, sky, and spirit will not have a great fanfare of dignitaries and kings, nor will it cost the taxpayer. On this past anniversary of Santa Fe, we celebrate the continuance of Pueblo life and pay a silent tribute to the kivas’ sacredness. This is a time for change! A day of recognition and cultural identity. It is ironic that the purpose of colonization was to defeat and change the Pueblo People. Our religion, practiced for thousands of years, was banned as paganism. Catholicism and Spanish surnames and civil government were forced on the pueblo people; the name changes were not done to honor the Spanish, as some mistakenly believe. Most still use the Spanish surnames: Cristobal, Gallegos, Garcia, Montoya, and so on. These names rightfully belong to the Spanish-speaking descendants. We still have Indian names.

The effects of this trauma are evident today by the secrecy in which our religion is practiced. It is significant to acknowledge that after more than four centuries of resistance, our Pueblo’s religious beliefs are still strong and vibrant. The Pueblo languages are still spoken. The sacred kivas are still intact.

May this monument of earth, even in its symbolism, be a reminder that we Pueblo People are still here! This is our legacy worth acknowledging, the Keres, Walatowa, Tiwa, Tewa, Zuni, and the Hopi. The Hopi are the only Puebloan people who were not colonized by Spain. They have no Spanish canes of government. They remain the original Indian sovereigns.

In 2005, San Juan Pueblo officially changed its name to “Ohkay Owingeh.” Santo Domingo Pueblo also returned to its Indian name “Kewa.” This name changes symbolize hope that will raise the conscience of other Pueblos to follow in their example. Demand that the schoolbooks, and official literature recounting the history of New Mexico, be revised to stress the remarkable resistance of the Indian People.

The opinions expressed in this commentary do not represent the Santa Ana Tribal Council or the All Indian Pueblo Council. The Federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 states, no Indian tribe, exercising powers of self-government, shall make or abridge the freedom of speech of the press. Today, I exercise my First Amendment right to free speech.

This article’s author—Manu Rainbird—was formerly known as Manuel R. Cristobal.

Paging through the past
Reprinted from July 1993 Signpost

Pauper’s grave for Tuapa

—Barb Belknap

On June 17, [1993,] eight police cars rumbled up Tuapa Road (Camino de la Rosa Castilla) in Placitas while a news helicopter circled above. Reminiscent of the three-helicopter, twelve-police-car, eight-marijuana-plant bust almost a year ago to the day, an onlooking neighbor on her own private property cringed and hoped the police wouldn’t come up the arroyo with guns as they mistakenly had last year, to try to arrest her and her two small children. (During that event, she took so long trying to get her children dressed to go to the station that the police finally gave up the idea and left.)

But this time, drugs were not the impetus for the commotion, except maybe aspirin for anyone who was unfortunate to watch the following-day’s destruction of so many buildings of character, which had existed for almost two hundred years. The police arrived successfully in Tuapa to evict the remaining tenants and warn them of the imminent-bulldozing schedule.

At 6:00 a.m. the next day, Bernalillo dispatch alerted Placitas volunteer fire department of a fire in Tuapa. The smoking fire was discovered to be a melting pile of about twenty tires in front of the main house, the most controversial house in Tuapa. A man with dredlocked hair, dressed in a long black robe stood watching with no comment.

Later that morning, the bulldozers did what they do best, destroying without flair the nine to ten buildings of Tuapa, starting with the main house. As though following in the history of the West, where an outlaw was forced to dig his own grave, stand next to it and be shot, only to fall into it and be forgotten, so fell the main house in Tuapa. The bulldozer first dug a large pit next to the house, then flattened the building and bulldozed it into the pit. A little dirt on top, the wind blew, nobody knew.

This main house was graced with many degrees of opinions on its historical significance. The present owner of the land, through its lengthy chain of inheritance, told reporters that it had no historical value, while others tell of a long history of the house dating back to the 1800s, possibly 1700s.

Without question, the Las Huertas Creek Valley, which Tuapa is a part of, has long been sought as a refuge from the high desert heat, and a feast for the soul, with its towering cottonwoods twinkling a ribbon of light toward Cabezón on the horizon. The homes these passing residents built were tried and true, Indian-style sculptured adobe dwellings that aesthetically put the newer Placitas boxes to shame, not only in artistic appeal and natural blending, but also in functionality. These homes were built to last and although they could stand up to our climate for two hundred years, they were lost to a bulldozer in about two minutes. It is more than a shame that the developers couldn’t have sold these unique structures, which have long been part of the heart of Placitas, along with their newly surveyed Tuapan parcels—98 acres priced at one million dollars, no electric.

Someday, perhaps in another two hundred years, when the value of preserving our heritage is more of a priority in New Mexico and especially along the historic Las Huertas Creek Valley, most of which has been confirmed to contain ancient dwelling sites of the Pueblo Indian one to four periods and the Anasazi period, an archaeology crew will dig up a once-jingling windchime made of a metal hoop from a car engine, kite string, and four peanut can lids, and put it in a museum for reflection on yet another time of a simple life along the banks of Las Huertas Creek.

re: vitals, viscera, guts, and glory

Dear Friends Back East,

Your recent litany of health complaints tells me you are nearing retirement age. Congratulations! And I understand your frustrations with nagging medical matters.

Indeed, since my own retirement, the fraying of proper functioning in this or that organ; this or that body fluid; this or that sensory apparatus; this or that skeletal part has mysteriously coincided with the monthly receipt of my pension checks. This phenomenon continues to this day—a kind of dark, devilish quid pro quo scheme hatched along the River Styx by evil corporate actuaries.

Nearly all the telephone calls I receive are now from health care personnel confirming an appointment and/or reporting on test results performed on my person. But I’m not complaining. Like you, I’m one of those fortunate Americans with good health insurance. Without that, I would not only have a very small telephone social life, but, quite possibly, no life at all.

A couple of you have confessed to postponing long-overdue colonoscopies. Well, at the risk of sounding saintly and self-righteous, I just had one of those penetrating procedures done in Albuquerque—expertly and painlessly—and I urge you to do the same back east. Yes, drinking that preparatory solution the night before is not pleasant, although the taste was significantly better than the home brew we used to make together, and the biological results are no worse than what we experienced after even moderate consumption of that wretched bathtub slop. And the next day’s procedure is over before you can even make the expected wisecracks to the doctor about finding Jimmy Hoffa in there or stumbling across a GOP jobs plan. So, suddenly the thing is over. You will each probably be fine and won’t need to face the colonoscope again for years. (Well, you don’t ever actually face it, but you know what I mean.)

The doctor will provide you with a detailed written report containing some high-quality, still photos taken during the trek through your innards. If the images are like mine, they will reveal an astonishing, seemingly endless, shadowy, labyrinthine cavern—red and rambling and not of this world. (You would never want to venture into such a place without a flashlight, ample provisions, and a fully charged cell phone. You just wouldn’t.)

Soon, you will see the pictures taken during my own procedure, because I intend to turn them into greeting cards. My creations will be simple and merely consist of a copy of a photo taken in my entrails and a short caption, e.g. “Happy Holidays from that Silly Ass in Placitas.” Or perhaps, “Congratulations on your big move!” Lightly romantic messages might be, “You Really Bowel Me Over,” or “It’s Empty Here Without You.” Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on this entrepreneurial idea.

So, continue to take care of yourselves and make the requisite medical appointments. Even Patrick displays a ready willingness to see the vet, although he would probably be less than excited over photos taken from within his little feline intestines. Happy entrails to you.

—Your Friend, Herb, Placitas

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