Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Santa Fe: The End of the Road

Santa Fe is a treasure trove of history preserved within the old Adobe walls of a 250-year-old UNESCO city. At first glance, it’s easy to see the beauty of the well-maintained plaza, surrounded by exquisite art galleries and museums, a visitor can be swayed by the quaintness of Navajo vendors selling their goods on blankets strewn on the sidewalk in front of the Palace of the Governors. It’s so very, very picturesque.

This is the vision City fathers and the Chamber of Commerce wish to promote. I get it. However, from a distance, here is what I saw under all of the PR.

There are eight Tewa tribes living in the area. Like the descendants of the” Trail of Tears,” their forefathers were deposited in the most uninhabitable section in America – the parched, empty, arid section of New Mexico’s high desert. (No doubt, one of the original sins of the government).

Today, the New Mexico reservations are still home to one of the largest populations of indigenous families found anywhere. There are only 23 federally recognized tribes and eight of them are in this area.

It is the Portal Committee that determines which artisans are eligible to sell at the Palace. According to the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, only natives deemed with “technical mastery” can sell their handcrafted items under the consecrated portal of the Governor’s Palace. But here’s the caveat. They must sit on the ground to do it.

While the entire economy of Santa Fe is based upon the Tewa heritage, those are the very persons that are not provided the dignity they richly deserve.

After 250 years, our country’s First Citizens are subjected to perpetual degradation. Let’s be clear, it isn’t “quaint” to sit on the ground to do business. It is deplorable.

Furthermore, of the 23 tribes, only 1500 native artisans are authorized under the umbrella of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs to sell their goods on the hallowed sidewalk in front of the Palace of the Governors.

One must then wonder, where do local businesses procure their goods? Are they not authentic? Or are they also a part of the known 1500 that just might be unwilling to humble themselves by sitting on the street?

Why can’t Mayor John Blair see it? Or Governor Grisham?

Here is the question for all time. Do either of them bring folding lawn chairs to work every day? Do any of their coworkers sit on the floor? Because for decades Navajo tradesmen have been mistreated. Like homeless panhandlers, these former great warriors are subjugated to sit on concrete curbs to sell their exquisite handmade objects.

Does this seem fair? Because it doesn’t from my point of view. It isn’t quaint. It is grievous.

Unlike in years past, when tribal goods were sold for pennies, now, when the artists are selling their goods at value, they are still treated with disrespect and relegated to sitting like lowly beggars on the sidewalks in front of Governor’s Palace. It is shameful.

Doesn’t anyone see this?

Where is the progress in this liberal state? After all, these Artisans who are the backbone to the Santa Fe economy are still sitting on the ground just like they did 250 years ago?

The only progress is they now sit on concrete sidewalks instead of the dirt. Yet, just a few steps away, shop owners sell similar native pieces next to imported items in air-conditioned shops. While more than likely, the very tradesmen making the goods are sitting on the ground. It is wrong. Worse still, the people who should care don’t even see it.

When at last, native artisans are benefiting first-hand from the value of their handmade items, why are they forced to sell from a subservient position on the ground?

With the eight reservations under the thumb of the National Park Service or Department of the Interior, oh, pardon me, we don’t call them reservations any longer, we’re too sensitive for that, we now call them “pueblos.” Of which I am confident that must erase the stigma imposed upon the New Mexico’s First Citizens since we can no longer call them Indians.

Do you get it?

These are the great-grandchildren of the bravest, fiercest warriors known on earth that have been subjugated to earn their living by squatting.

Everyone across the state is guilty. Pay attention to your fellow man. Give some respect because, brother, they earned it at places like Little Big Horn and as Wind talkers during WWII. They are to be prized and those of us with a drop of their blood are incensed.

It is an incomprehensible act for this so-called Sanctuary City to ignore the obvious. Yet, I get it. Oh bother, they’ll turn a blind eye and instead of providing justice, they’ll just grant them another casino!

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].


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