Santa Fe, NM

Opinion: The Destroyed Plaza Obelisk Should Be Replaced with Something More Unifying

Daniella Cressman

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"Many demand the return or replacement of the 33-foot obelisk — a more than 150-year-old tribute to Civil War Union soldiers and servicemen who fought Native Americans — after it was toppled by protesters in October 2020. Others describe possible water fountains, sculptures, statues and a stone tower meant to represent the city's diversity." —Sean P. Thomas

New Mexico—including Santa Fe—is home to a lot of cultures: Spanish, Indigenous, and Caucasian cultures all live together, side-by-side. Fortunately, this has led to some incredible restaurants and a wide variety of art.

These three cultures often have strikingly different viewpoints, and the indigenous communities of New Mexico have been discriminated against, to put it lightly. Land itself is, understandably, an immensely contentious issue. There are many, many other issues which affect Native Americans negatively.

Discrimination towards Native Americans has been a major problem in our state, and still is in many cases.

"The nation's largest Native American reservation and New Mexico's largest city have signed an agreement aimed at protecting Navajo Nation members from discrimination. The Gallup Independent reports the Navajo Nation and Albuquerque signed a memorandum of agreement last week that officials say will strengthen communication between the two entities.The agreement comes after two Navajo homeless men in 2014 were beaten to death in Albuquerque by three non-Native American teenagers." —The Associated Press

This agreement was signed in 2019.

There are 19 active pueblos in our state, which is wonderful!

That being said, there is often—understandably— a lot of resentment among many due to the discrimination that is prevalent in this state, and that anger at the injustice of it all erupted during a 2020 protest on Indigenous People's Day, when the obelisk honoring Civil War soldiers and serviceman who had fought the Native Americans which had long been displayed on the Santa Fe Plaza was destroyed.

These soldiers committed mass genocide against many Native American tribes. The tribes were here first, after all.

Honestly, it seems deeply insensitive to display soldiers who are nothing but traitors and oppressors in the eyes of the Native American community.

Furthermore, I think more dialogue needs to be had, as hard as that may be, so we can at least try to understand each other, and try to understand what crosses a line and what doesn't.

Relations between cultures will never be perfect, but replacing this obelisk with something significant that represents and honors our state's diversity would be a step in the right direction.

In my view, water has always been unifying, and is significant to each culture in one way or another, especially here in New Mexico.

Susan E. has a brilliant suggestion.

"Water has created community since time immemorial and it's why people have been here in Santa Fe for thousands of years — all people, together." —Susan E

With religious or political statues, we risk offending each group who does not resonate with certain elements of that particular belief system.

If the testament to the soldiers was to be put up once more, it would be a reminder of mass genocide and oppression to the Native American tribes in our state, and I do not believe that is the message most New Mexicans—who not only embrace diversity but celebrate it—would want to convey to residents in and visitors to the Land of Enchantment.

"While Santa Feans won't find out the future of the Soldiers' Monument site until at least August, when CHART organizers are scheduled to release their report and recommendations, residents can view proposals online at chartsantafe.com/monumental-dreams and submit comments through July 10." —Sean Thomas

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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