Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 12, 2017

Liberation as Santa Fe Celebrates Conquest and Genocide by Jennifer Marley, San Ildefonso Pueblo

Photo Vanessa Bowen

"I pray that liberation becomes something possible in the minds of all Native people"
by Jennifer Marley
Jennifer is from San Ildefonso Pueblo. She is a lead organizer with The Red Nation, Vice President of University of New Mexico (UNM) KIVA Club, and a student at UNM
On Friday, my predictions of increased violence from police and Entrada attendees came true. Everything we have been trying to bring to light was shown loud and clear; the logic of conquest is alive and well here in New Mexico. For those of you who have not read any of the recent articles pertaining to the situation, I will give a brief recap.

Santa Fe police created illegal boundaries made to corral peaceful protesters on public property. Anyone with basic knowledge of criminal trespass law knows that no one can "trespass" on public property. This alone has caught the attention of national legal organizations. The barricade that police set up was deemed a "free speech zone," but it was more akin to a reservation. The Santa Fe Police Department's (SFPD) upfront lack of regard for the basic civil rights of protesters is something that exemplifies what I mean when I say "it's only free speech if it's racist." At one point a Native man was arrested for criminal trespassing because he was wearing a bandana on his head in the plaza; because he was simply existing in that space. With the presence of an onsite inmate check-in station it was made clear that SFPD intended to make arrests from the get-go. They protected an ongoing celebration of conquest and genocide with what the Santa Fe New Mexican called "a small army of police" on the ground and SWAT police armed with sniper rifles. Eight of us total were arrested. This was the length law enforcement went to despite the fact that the Entrada was moved two hours ahead of its scheduled time within a 30 minute notice, and shortened to 20 minutes in total length.
It is apparent that my arrest was planned prior to my presence in the space (I did not arrive until the Entrada was over).
As someone who has been a high profile figure in the movement to abolish the Entrada and a key media contact, I was made to be an example of what happens when Pueblo/Native people show dissent. SFPD displayed a common tactic of political intimidation that has been seen throughout history to quell anti-imperialist movements. Taken as a symbolic trophy for the city, attempts where made to demoralize me and my comrades. At age 21 I was taken as a political prisoner to actively suppress the recent resurgence in Pueblo resistance. If you have seen any footage of my arrest, it is clear that my charges are not only false, but completely absurd. What has struck me as especially eerie after the fact is that the location where I was arrested, on Lincoln Street between Palace and Marcy, is historically the location where a gallows once stood; a gallows used by Spanish invaders to execute Pueblo resisters. The continued settler colonial violence looks like conquistadors and cavalrymen in the uniform of a cop, carrying out the public brutalization of Native people and their allies.
I have nothing to feel shame for. In fact, I remained in high sprits for the duration of my incarceration because what came of this was the exposition of the hatred for Native discontent and existence in a space that was once known as "The White Shell Water Place," a Tewa Pueblo decimated by the settlement that is Santa Fe and which now caters to wealthy Whites. My heart is overjoyed by the overwhelming support my comrades and I have received. I know that after I was arrested, the crowd of protesters were not demoralized but powered through with a righteous and raging spirt that made it clear that we will not submit, and that we never did submit to Spanish or US occupation.
Now, something I must address is opposition to active political resistance from my own Pueblo people. If you wish to defend and protect the validity of a permit by the Fiestas Council (which has no legality in the exclusion people from the space), you have clearly chosen to uphold and defend an already invalid settler state. The myth that Pueblo people are docile and submissive is one that was constructed and placed upon us. We have held on to so much of our cultural life ways and sovereign autonomy because of the righteous violence we enacted against the invaders who wished to delete us permanently.
I hope and pray that all realize the necessity for a long-term Pueblo resistance movement. I pray that liberation becomes something possible in the minds of all Native people.
This movement is not just about the Entrada. It is not just about revisionist history and the constant glorification of Spanish conquest and US imperialism. This movement is about the protection of our land, livelihood, nationhood, bodies, and sacred sites. Let us not forget the havoc the extractive industry wreaks on our lands. Let us not look away from the destruction caused by LANL, gas and oil development, and the nuclear industry. We need look no further than Bears Ears, Mesa Verde, of Valles Calderas to see how our most holy places are constantly under attack. Our bodies are constantly under attack with epidemics of suicide, addiction, sexual violence, and domestic violence. These epidemics are not a result of our personal shortcomings as individuals or as a people; they are the result of centuries of systemic violence carried out by capitalism, settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and white supremacy. Only when these institutions are destroyed can we experience liberation and the establishment of true nationhood.
I believe the energy and spirit we saw cumulate over the past month leading up to this moment indicates the start of a new era in which Pueblo people can once again organize for liberation. This is happening in tandem with movements for liberation worldwide from Santa Fe, to Charlottesville, to Palestine. Pueblo resistance never died, it is as resilient as we are, and it will persist for centuries to come. Be well, relatives.
Kuu Dah Wo ha/Ny'tra


Anonymous said...

Jennifer is a good person, educated and caring, willing to confront the imbalanced. Centuries of fear have imbalanced those she seeks to correct, those she tries to direct to a better existence. Understanding words cannot say the same for enforcement and puppet courts thrilling to hurt Jennifer. There is one Sun and one People on this Earth. Those that group around hate, occupying stolen land, fearful souls hurting inside for the evil they represent, those people are small and the detritus of human history. All they have to do is let love in, stop hating. Be sensitive to others hurt. All people know that is the only way that peace, stability and prosperity benefit all. We are all challenged by hate in our over-crowded world. All people hurt. Find love. Nia'wen kowa. Greetings, thanks and love.

Tom Hyland said...

I express a big congratulations to you, Jennifer, upon reading that all charges against you have been dismissed. In the recent uprisings of groups violently attacking statues and each other in the attempt to edit history, it is obvious that history cannot be erased. The Hispanic/Catholic population that celebrates the Entrada will never let go of their parade through the streets of Santa Fe. The Saint Francis Cathedral is likely to stand for hundreds of years to come. I suggest you embrace your history by a yearly celebration of the Pueblo Revolt. Every year the current members of the surrounding Pueblos can meet at the Plaza in full native regalia holding little Catholic monk puppets hanging from ropes. I am not joking. Rejoice and celebrate those 12 years of peace and quiet when the occupying Spaniards high-tailed it to El Paso and your people were allowed to hunt, fish and live your lives unmolested by violent religious zealots determined to eradicate your culture. I will always worship Nature before government and religion. The Entrada is a perpetrated lie, year after year, celebrating the "peaceful reconquest" and the return of the invaders. How can a conquest be peaceful? What of the piles of severed feet that were once attached to the Natives conquered? I am a sign maker and graphic designer and have lived in Santa Fe County over 30 years. Contact me via and I will design a T-shirt celebrating the Pueblo Revolt for free. Together let's make this the most truthful celebration of history and freedom that has been sorely lacking for so many years.