FOUR NA­TIVE ARTISTS

spread the word about the Pue­blo Re­volt

Pasatiempo - - JENNIFER GOES - Michael Abatemarco

The star­date is 47751.2.

The Fed­er­a­tion has just ceded con­trol of the planet Dor­van V to the Car­das­sians, which means re­lo­cat­ing the planet’s Na­tive Amer­i­can colonists who fled from Earth to es­tab­lish Dor­van V as their new home. Cap­tain Jean-Luc Pi­card of the star­ship En­ter­prise has the un­en­vi­able task of con­vinc­ing them to aban­don the planet be­fore it re­verts back to the Car­das­sians, but the set­tlers refuse to go. Ten­sions mount be­tween the Na­tive Amer­i­cans and the Car­das­sians. Mean­while, Pi­card learns that one of his an­ces­tors fought against Na­tive Amer­i­cans dur­ing the Pue­blo Re­volt of 1680. He now has an op­por­tu­nity to right this per­ceived wrong com­mit­ted eons be­fore and align him­self with the Na­tive Amer­i­can colonists in their new strug­gle. These events oc­cur in Jour­ney’s End, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Gen­er­a­tion that orig­i­nally aired in 1994. While Jour­ney’s End con­cludes hap­pily when peace is bro­kered be­tween the Na­tive Amer­i­cans and the Car­das­sians, the same can­not be said of the his­toric events the show ref­er­ences. The Pue­blo Re­volt was a vi­o­lent con­flict in which ap­prox­i­mately 400 Span­ish colonists, in­clud­ing 27 Fran­cis­can mis­sion­ar­ies, memo­ri­al­ized by Santa Fe’s Cross of the Mar­tyrs, lost their lives. The re­main­ing colonists were driven from Santa Fe, and for the next 12 years, the city was un­der Na­tive con­trol. In 1692 Don Diego de Var­gas led the Span­ish in a “blood­less” re­con­quest, tak­ing back Santa Fe with­out the use of force, a fact which has led to the false per­cep­tion that peace reigned in the re­gion there­after. The re­con­quest is re­mem­bered ev­ery year dur­ing the an­nual Fi­esta de Santa Fe.

His­toric events like the Pue­blo Re­volt may not im­me­di­ately spring to mind when you think of science fic­tion, but blend­ing the two has oc­cu­pied Co­chití Pue­blo-born artist Vir­gil Or­tiz for some time. For the past 15 years, Or­tiz, a 2015 re­cip­i­ent of the Gover­nor’s Award for Ex­cel­lence in the Arts, has been de­vel­op­ing a movie script based on the re­volt, with a fu­tur­is­tic com­po­nent (the set­ting is the year 2180). Cor­re­spond­ing works in pho­tog­ra­phy and ce­ram­ics are a part of Or­tiz’s evolv­ing 22nd-cen­tury nar­ra­tive and make up the ex­hi­bi­tion Re­volt 1680/2180, on view through May 2016 at the Den­ver Art Mu­seum. The ce­ramic and pho­to­graphic pieces in the ex­hibit rep­re­sent char­ac­ters from Or­tiz’s movie script, such as the Blind Archers. In his reimagined nar­ra­tive of the re­volt, Tahu, a young woman blinded by a con­quis­ta­dor dur­ing an archery con­test, later forms the Blind Archers, who par­tic­i­pate in the upris­ing. “The script is al­ways chang­ing, and ev­ery year that I do a show I in­tro­duce a new char­ac­ter that rep­re­sents one of the 19 Pue­b­los here, like the Blind Archers that rep­re­sent Co­chití or the Aero­nauts — there are all these dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters,” Or­tiz told Pasatiempo. “So ev­ery year, the script rewrites it­self, and it’s grown its own wings.”

Pue­blo artists like Or­tiz take a dif­fer­ent view of the re­con­quest than many in the His­panic com­mu­nity and, con­se­quently, a dif­fer­ent view of the Santa Fe Fi­esta. “I used to look at it with a lot of anger, but study­ing about the Pue­blo Re­volt and ev­ery­body that was in­volved, my ba­sic mis­sion now is to get ev­ery­body on the same boat and ed­u­cate them about what hap­pened to our peo­ple. It was the first Amer­i­can revo­lu­tion,” Or­tiz said. “A lot of it is not told in schools or history books. It’s been swept un­der the car­pet, and a lot of the geno­cide that hap­pened has not been talked about.”

Af­ter re­tak­ing Santa Fe, de Var­gas left the re­gion briefly to amass more forces in Mexico and re­turned in 1693. A num­ber of Pue­blo war­riors pre­vented his reen­try, and de Var­gas re­sponded with a show of force and took the city yet again — this time, in a far less blood­less con­flict. De Var­gas or­dered the ex­e­cu­tion of the war­riors that op­posed him and sub­jected their fam­i­lies to years of servi­tude. “The Santa Fe Fi­esta doesn’t pro­mote that, of course,” said Santa Clara artist Jason Gar­cia, whose se­ries Tewa Tales of Sus­pense reimag­ines the Pue­blo Re­volt in works with a comic­book style. “It’s kind of odd to see how peo­ple for­get about the hor­rors, the his­toric and cul­tural trau­mas re­lated to those events,” he said. Gar­cia’s work can be seen in Axle Con­tem­po­rary’s ex­hibit Slices of Won­der through Sept. 20.

Another re­volt staged by 14 pue­b­los in 1696 led to a long and pro­tracted re­venge. De Var­gas did not man­age to sub­due all Pue­blo op­po­si­tion un­til around the turn of the cen­tury. “All the Pue­blo peo­ple fought to sur­vive and now we en­dure with all of our tra­di­tions in­tact,” Or­tiz said. Gar­cia re­it­er­ated the point: “The Pue­b­los in

New Mexico still prac­tice their dances, their cer­e­monies, and their lan­guage is still spo­ken. We’re thank­ful that we’re still liv­ing in Santa Clara Pue­blo. We still know what the tra­di­tional name is: Kha’p’oo Owinge, that means ‘rose path.’ We’re still con­nected to our an­ces­tral vil­lage of Puye. Other tribes weren’t so suc­cess­ful in main­tain­ing some of those things, so there’s that dis­con­nect from their tribal iden­tity.”

In 2013 a sculp­ture of de Var­gas in Santa Fe’s Cathe­dral Park was dam­aged by van­dals, who nearly knocked it off of its pedestal. It’s a mys­tery whether or not the dam­age was done to send a mes­sage. “It’s a pretty bold state­ment to de­face a work of art,” said Gar­cia, whose own work in Tewa Tales of Sus­pense con­tains some con­tro­ver­sial im­agery, such as that of Po’pay, the re­li­gious leader from Ohkay Owingeh Pue­blo (for­merly San Juan Pue­blo) who would emerge as the hero of the Pue­blo Re­volt, loom­ing large over his Span­ish en­e­mies, and Tewa war­riors slaugh­ter­ing Fran­cis­can mis­sion­ar­ies. “The artist cre­ates a piece to honor some­one. Maybe they haven’t done the re­search, or maybe they have. It will of­fend some­one some­where along the line. Peo­ple are shocked, in a sense, when they see my work. I’m just por­tray­ing the truth, the history. It’s to teach peo­ple that this is what hap­pened to my an­ces­tors. This hap­pened in New Mexico. If you don’t talk about it, you for­get about it. By talk­ing about it you’re also heal­ing from it as well.”

Or­tiz ap­proaches his work with a sim­i­lar pur­pose in mind. “Set­ting it in 2180 al­lows me to bring in the sci-fi as­pects of all the char­ac­ters and the story and bring it up to date so that kids can re­ally un­der­stand it. I want to pay trib­ute to the peo­ple who pulled off the Pue­blo Re­volt and Po’pay in par­tic­u­lar, who brought to­gether the pue­b­los. To­day, there’s 19 pue­b­los, but back in the day there were a lot more. To co­or­di­nate the Pue­blo Re­volt was a big task, and he pulled it off.”

Po’pay was one of 47 Pue­blo In­di­ans im­pris­oned for witch­craft in 1675, prior to the Re­volt, and tor­tured dur­ing his con­fine­ment by the or­der of Gov. Juan Fran­cisco Tre­viño. Three of the ac­cused men were hanged, and a fourth, also sen­tenced to be hanged, com­mit­ted sui­cide. Their names are not com­mem­o­rated on any plaques as they are for the Fran­cis­can mis­sion­ar­ies who died in the Re­volt, but a life-size sculp­ture of Po’pay, carved in mar­ble by Cliff Fragua, was un­veiled at the Na­tional Stat­u­ary hall of the U.S. Capi­tol in 2005.

For some Pue­blo chil­dren, un­aware of the history be­ing hon­ored, Fi­esta is a time for fire­works and the dra­matic sight of Zo­zo­bra burn­ing, with all the sor­rows of the pop­u­lace burn­ing along with him. “I don’t think they re­ally got the mean­ing be­hind what it meant,” Or­tiz said. “We do still have things in place that re­mind us of that time in history, but Santa Fe Fi­esta doesn’t re­ally bring it out,” said Santo Domingo Pue­blo car­toon­ist Ri­cardo Caté, whose comic strip With­out Reser­va­tions runs daily in The Santa Fe New Mex­i­can. “It’s kind of like Thanks­giv­ing or any of the hol­i­days,” he said. “We don’t re­ally celebrate it. We stand back and watch.”

Caté took on the topic of the Fi­esta’s cel­e­bra­tory reen­act­ments of de Var­gas’ reen­try to the city in a re­cent car­toon in which one char­ac­ter asks another if he’s seen the en­trada of Don Diego de Var­gas. The other replies, “I’m still wait­ing for the Pue­blo Re­volt reen­act­ment.”

Co­chití artist Diego Romero also cre­ates works of so­cial com­men­tary that re­flect themes of Na­tive iden­tity and history. Romero im­bues his im­agery with ref­er­ences to pop cul­ture and mythol­ogy, ren­der­ing char­ac­ters in comic-book style or in a style sim­i­lar to fig­ures on ar­chaic Greek wares. A re­cent ad­di­tion to the col­lec­tion of the New Mexico Mu­seum of Art,

Siege of Santa Fe, shows the Pue­blo takeover in a styl­ized de­pic­tion. The fig­ures are di­vided, with con­quis­ta­dors on one side and Pue­blo war­riors on the other, seem­ingly locked in eter­nal strug­gle, with no ap­par­ent vic­tor. “I do the art that I do be­cause it is the history of the area and I feel it’s the un­told history,” Romero told

Pasatiempo. “If you open a text­book, from page one it says Christo­pher Colum­bus dis­cov­ered Amer­ica. We don’t get much of the Na­tive per­spec­tive on these things.” Romero pointed out that doc­u­ments of the Span­ish fri­ars at­test to the bru­tal­ity Na­tive peo­ples suf­fered un­der the con­quis­ta­dors. “Within their own record­ings lies the truth,” he said. “But here’s the thing: Is it the bru­tal­ity of this par­tic­u­lar con­quest or is it the bru­tal­ity of man? Our an­ces­tors made many count­less, per­ilous treks and jour­neys and risked their lives many times and have been in the throes of death so that we could be here. If you look at each in­di­vid­ual’s story and you were to fol­low it back all the way to the dawn of mankind, it’s a mir­a­cle that per­son is even here.”

Whether or not we re­ally will be telling the story in 2180 or in the 24th cen­tury of Cap­tain Pi­card de­pends a lot on our telling it now.

Pue­blo artists like Vir­gil Or­tiz take a dif­fer­ent view of the re­con­quest than many in the His­panic com­mu­nity and, con­se­quently, a dif­fer­ent view of the Santa Fe Fi­esta. “It was the first Amer­i­can revo­lu­tion,” Or­tiz said. “A lot of it is not told in schools or history books. It’s been swept un­der the car­pet, and a lot of the geno­cide that hap­pened has not been talked about.” Jason Gar­cia: Tewa Tales of Sus­pense No. 1, 2008, hand-pro­cessed clay and min­eral pig­ments; above left, Vir­gil Or­tiz: Tahu, 2012, ce­ramic; above right, Or­tiz: Cuda, 2012, ce­ramic; op­po­site page, left, Diego Romero: Knot Bear­ers, 2009; fired ce­ramic, min­eral pig­ments, and gold leaf; col­lec­tion of the Al­bu­querque Mu­seum; right, Romero: Siege of Santa Fe, 2009, terra cotta, col­lec­tion of the New Mexico Mu­seum of Art

Vir­gil Or­tiz: Po’Pay, 2012, ce­ramic

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