Inside the Capitol

Thursday, October 08, 2009

10-12 Santa Fe Gets More Culture

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Our capital city had more than its share of cultural experiences in the past week. For Santa Fe, that's a lot of cultural experience.
Featured, as usual, was the Spanish culture. Spain's Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon y Grecia and his wife, the Princess of Asturias Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano visited Santa Fe to help commemorate its 400th anniversary.
The Spanish king and queen also were invited to visit during the 16-month event. It is not yet known if they will make an appearance during that period but the prince and princess wowed the city.
Heir to the throne, the 6-foot 5-inch prince, a former member of Spain's Olympic sailing team, spoke beautiful English as he recounted his country's founding of the Royal City. The striking princess is a former CNN International reporter.
The rowdy Spanish press also came along for the trip, as it did for the visits of Spain's king and queen in 1987 and 1998. I dare say this visit garnered more coverage in Spain than it did in this country.
Prince Felipe and Maurice Bonal, chairman of the 400th anniversary committee, emphasized in their remarks the importance of reconciliation between the Spanish community and Native Americans.
Some of that already has begun. La Conquistadora, the blessed statue of the Virgin Mary, has been renamed Our Lady of Peace. The surrounding pueblos participate in annual Fiesta activities and they are participating in the 400th commemorations.
Lee Moquino of Santa Clara Pueblo was quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican as saying, "It's bittersweet. We're celebrating 400 years of when the Spanish came and conquered our people and our land. We need to have that…ongoing relationship to reconcile, forgive and move forward."
Moquino added that when the prince and princess were told "Bienvenidos a su tierra," welcome to your land, I thought "Bienvenidos to mi tierra," welcome to my land."
The day before the royal visit, Gov. Bill Richardson welcomed the first lady of Mexico, Margarita Zavala de Calderon to Santa Fe. She was officially opening Ventanilla de Salud, window of health, an information booth at El Paisano grocery store in a heavily Mexican immigrant section of Santa Fe.
At the health window, Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants can obtain culturally relevant information about basic wellness and preventative health issues, as well as learn about low-cost clinics.
The information center is a project of the Mexican Consulate and operated by the University of New Mexico Cancer Center with the assistance of the state Department of Health and volunteers.
Santa Fe's community of Mexican immigrants is growing rapidly. They aren't all low wage workers. Many have an entrepreneurial spirit and operate small businesses.
Since early New Mexico spent 223 years under Spanish rule and only 25 years under Mexico following the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican culture has played a very minor role in Santa Fe. But that is changing.
Despite playing a significant role in the Wild West following the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821, Santa Fe has not emphasized its Western culture.
A case in point occurred a few days earlier when a plaque was dedicated on a downtown building designating it as the location of the jail where Billy the Kid was held in 1880 awaiting trial in Mesilla for murder.
The Kid spent three months in that jail, the most secure in the territory. Much of the time he wrote letters, including the legendary pleas to Gov. Lew Wallace to keep his bargain to pardon Billy in return for testimony he already had rendered in another murder trial.
The location of that jail never has been researched by Santa Fe officials despite this city's enormous interest in tourism. As a result, more than one location has claimed to be the site. One has displayed a plaque for many years.
Now a second plaque has appeared. It is much closer to the location identified by the world's leading authority on Billy. But it still isn't right.
MON, 10-12-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



Post a Comment

<< Home