As kids during fiesta time the fiesta council would show up to our school, we would all wait in the gym for them to come in singing Sí señor, cómo no, vámonos al vacilón… all the kids clapping and chanting. As a small little girl, I hoped they’d pick me for the little Reina at the school and dreamed of one day being La Reina of Fiestas. We grew up enjoying the music, the food, the culture of it all. And as an adult having those same traditions carried on when working for the State hearing the Fiesta Council march in and sing, teaching my children the history and taking them to enjoy the fiestas and machines. I always saw a mixed group of Spaniards, Native Americans, and Mexicans in the fiesta group, so how I saw it was a togetherness… United!
I saw it as the here and now — the diverse, rich culture New Mexico has and how far we’ve come as people from the actions of our ancestors. The Conquistadors may have done horrible things but sadly that’s what happened in those times (and throughout history since the beginning, even in the Bible) you can’t label us with those actions. You can’t erase history. You can’t take away what happened centuries ago and start a war now.
We as New Mexicans (original New Mexicans) have gotten along and have been proud of our State for centuries, but now it feels like they want to reverse how far we’ve come? How many government officials have attended these events, celebrated these events, promoted these events, bragged about our culture to other states, used it as a marketing tool to bring in tourists, or were past fiesta council members themselves? Heck, they even let us leave early from work to celebrate. I’m proud to be a New Mexican, not because of what my people did 400 years and thereafter, but because we are beautiful people, mixed with Native American, Mexican, and European Blood (one of the only states that can say that) ~Mestizo~.
My great-grandpa was a historian who often wrote about criminals. My great grandparents were the King and Queen of the Santa Fe trail, and I’ve had family who was part of the fiesta council they never joined or did those things to say we’re proud of our ancestors’ actions & what they did but because they were proud of our traditions and culture. Most of our families were here before NM was a state.
The statues are part of the history of New Mexico (like it or not) when you take down a piece of history you take down a piece of us. Not the bad but the culture, the unique culture, and how we got here. Even if they were evil, our families, our city, our State is here because of them. We learn from history so that we do not repeat it. We’re not mad because it was Oñate or De Vargas. We’re mad because that’s what led us to be who we are as Spanish decedents. We can’t help where we come from, but that’s our Raza. We are defending our race, not the statue.
So, take down the statues because you can never take down our heritage, you can never strip our last names or the names of our cities, you can never remove our music, or ban any of our cultures. Que Viva Nuevo Mexico!
Crystal Lovato y Gutiérrez-Baca, Proud Nuevo Mexicana