What are the implications of public commemorations of the Southwest's Spanish colonization, and do such celebrations sanction the conquest's continuing legacy of racial inequality? This paper examines such questions by way of an analysis of the Santa Fe Fiesta, an annual celebration of New Mexico's 1692 re-conquest from the Pueblo Indians by Spanish General Don Diego de Vargas. The Santa Fe Fiesta, which uses living actors to publicly re-enact the Pueblos' submission to Spanish conquistadors, may be analyzed as a variant of the "conquest dramas" the Spanish historically used to convey a message of Spanish superiority and indigenous inferiority. Indeed, New Mexico's All Indian Pueblo Council and its Eight Northern Pueblos have boycotted the Fiesta since 1977, and some Chicanos have complained the event's glorification of a Spanish identity excludes Latinos of mixed heritage. However, an examination of the history of the Fiesta illustrates that although it ritually re-enacts the Spanish re-conquest of New Mexico, it also comments obliquely on another--the Anglo usurpation of Hispanos' former control over the region. Although Anglo officials at the Museum of New Mexico revived the Fiesta as a lure for tourists and settlers in the early 20th-century, Hispanos have gradually re-appropriated the Fiesta as a vehicle for the "active preservation of Hispanic heritage in New Mexico." Thus an analysis of the Fiesta's history illustrates that the event conveys a powerful contemporary message; it is both part conquest theater and part theater of resistance to Hispanos' own conquest.
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Research Article| November 01 2001
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Sarah Horton; Where is the "Mexican" in "New Mexican"? Enacting History, Enacting Dominance in the Santa Fe Fiesta. The Public Historian 1 November 2001; 23 (4): 41–54. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2001.23.4.41
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