Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Protesters in Santa Fe march, throw paint on monument

Siihasin Hope, from the Navajo Nation, leads a chant Monday at the Kit Carson memorial in Santa Fe. More than 100 people marched and protested around the monument on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Protesters marched through downtown Santa Fe on Monday, shouted at tourists and called for the removal of a monument to Kit Carson — citing his role in the Long Walk of 1864, which forced Navajo families from their land.

The two-hour demonstration ended with some protesters splashing red and yellow paint on the monument to Carson. It sits outside a federal courthouse just north of the Plaza.

At least 100 protesters participated in the march as they carried signs and chanted “1680” to commemorate the pueblo revolt.

The tensest moment came when the driver of a pickup truck backed out of a parking space into the crowd, triggering an angry confrontation before police officers arrived.

But the march was otherwise peaceful. Protesters chanted “no pride in genocide” and “tourists go home” as they walked from the Plaza a few blocks the Kit Carson monument.

Part of the monument was covered in plywood, following similar protests in past years.

One unidentified speaker — most of the crowd wore COVID-19 masks — said the monument is like having a statute of Hitler in the middle of the city. Speakers said they will continue to protest until the monument is removed.

Thousands of Navajo people are estimated to have died in the Long Walk, either the 300-mile march itself or later in Bosque Redondo, where they faced starvation and disease.

This year’s Indigenous People’s Day rally took place two years after Native American activists and their supporters used cargo straps and chains to top a controversial obelisk in the Plaza, known as the “Soldier’s Monument,” that had stood for more than 150 years.

Eight individuals faced charges in connection with the incident, but seven of the eight chose to participate in a restorative justice initiative for first-time nonviolent felony offenders. The other defendant was given a deferred sentence after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor vandalism offense.

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