The plaza was filled with vendors, tourists, music and the smell of grilled food from local vendors on Monday – an indigenous day that had little of the drama of the previous year.
Unlike the 2020 Holidays, when protesters toppled the Soldiers Memorial, downtown Santa Fe was relatively quiet. Several police officers were monitoring the area and were posted in various corners around the plaza, with patrol security guards mingling with the public.
Police presence had been noticed all weekend.
Other memorial sites, including the U.S. District Court and the Cross of Martyrs, were also quiet.
Attempts to reach the Santa Fe Police Chief Aaron Ortiz, who was in charge of police operations over the holiday weekend, were unsuccessful.
Some indigenous activists and artists came to the plaza to celebrate the holiday. Michael Garcia of Acoma Pueblo was the first of several to arrive, noting he felt compelled to offer prayers and songs.
Garcia, 34, said he had lived in Santa Fe for four years after finding work in the area. He made his third appearance in the plaza on Monday, he said.
“Not only did I come for Indigenous Peoples Day, it has always been a calling and an intuition of mine to come here no matter what,” said Garcia.
He said he hoped to make an impact through “long overdue” healing prayers.
“We often look to our past and our present and try to combine the two,” said Garcia. “Of course we can have conflicts, divisions – and of course these tensions can be there, but that is my goal, to pray for that healing.”
Garcia said he supported the protesters last year.
His appearance in the plaza was followed by hoop dancers from the Lightning Boy Foundation, a nonprofit that offers hoop dance classes to teenagers in northern New Mexico.