On Monday, Rio Arriba County crews began taking down a statue of conquistador Don Juan de Oñate in Alcalde. According to the Rio Grande Sun, “Organizers and community members still plan to hold a demonstration for its removal today at 4 p.m. at the County’s Oñate Monument Resource and Visitors’ Center in Alcalde.” Previously in 1998, the bronze statue of Oñate was vandalized, with a radical group cutting off its right foot to supposedly “make a statement about Oñate’s treatment of Pueblo people.”
The move to take down the statue comes one day after an Albuquerque Oñate statue was vandalized with the words “racist murderer” spray pained on the figure, while another Oñate statue was vandalized at the El Paso International Airport. Radical leftists have been seizing on the reignited race war due to the death of a Minnesota man, George Floyd, to force through militant protests and tear down monuments across the country that they see as “offensive.”
Now, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is embracing the toppling of the Alcalde statue, writing on Twitter, “New Mexico’s multiculturalism is its strength. Understanding our complicated history – and acknowledging the imbalanced power structures within it – is a process, and this is a step in the right direction.”
Oñate has been criticized for retaliating against Acoma Pueblo soldiers in 1598 after they killed 12 of his men, cutting off the right foot of 24 surviving men. The Spanish government, however, took decisive action to discipline Oñate’s cruel tactics and “tried Oñate as a war criminal and permanently banished him from New Mexico.”
But one divisive New Mexico figure still remains standing — and in the U.S. Congress of all places — a figure of the blood-thirsty tyrant known as Po’pay, who is responsible for hundreds of murders and bloodshed upon the Spanish people. The statue was erected in 2005 by New Mexico’s congressional delegation.
On August 15, 1680, Po’pay led the Pueblo Revolt, killing at least 400 Spaniards, including 21 of the 33 Catholic priests in New Mexico. He stomped on Christianity, claiming, “The God of the Christians is dead,” and saying, “He was made of rotten wood.”
But instead of punishing Po’pay like they are with Oñate, New Mexico leaders are praising the violent tyrant. In a now-deleted Facebook post, then-Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham described Po’pay in a much nicer light, saying the warlord was a “religious leader who led the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in response to Spanish policies of forced labor and religious [persecution.]”
We have now come to a point in history, where oppression is picked and chosen based upon skin color and nothing more. While actual oppressors such as Po’pay are honored with 12-foot marble statues in the halls of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., other statues are being cherry-picked to rip down, such as that of Don Juan De Oñate. Will the Governor retract her previous statements rejoicing Po’pay’s brutal Pueblo Revolt and demand his statue be ripped down as well? Most likely not.