Dear University of New Mexico and New Mexico community,
September 28, 2023, was a disheartening day for our New Mexico community. We learned that during a peaceful rally celebrating the delay of the re-installation of the Juan de Oñate statue outside a Rio Arriba County building in Española, an unprovoked gunman shot a peaceful protester.
This is the second time a shooting occurred at a peaceful rally against an Oñate statue. The first occurred two years ago in 2021 near Old Town in Albuquerque, when another unprovoked gunman shot and injured a peaceful protester. Here on the UNM main campus, we are pushing for the renaming of Oñate Hall. We should not honor the well-known legacy of violence and trauma.
It is evident to the Native American Studies faculty and to our community members that a legacy of violence against Indigenous people persists. Out of respect for the peaceful protester and Native peoples overall who are still confronting the trauma and harm of violence, we ask all our UNM community members and leaders to recognize September 28, 2023, as a day in which Indigenous people continue to endure racism.
This violent act is particularly poignant during October, when we will be celebrating and acknowledging Indigenous People’s Day and the fight to revitalize our communities, languages, and peoples. The University of New Mexico Native American Studies Department faculty stands against racism and violence from Oñate’s brutality of the 1500s to now.
Native American Studies Department Faculty of University of New Mexico
Statement courtesy of The Red Nation