Should we celebrate the Fourth of July?

September 24, 2018

I just enjoyed another Fiesta de Santa Fe along with thousands of Santa Fe locals. I have always known what Fiesta is about. I am now compelled to wonder if, after “cleansing” Fiesta, the powers that be have any interest in redefining the only truly “racist” event on the Plaza — the commemoration of the Fourth of July.

In the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate on that day, under the list of grievances to the King, is the wording: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Really nothing much for the Native Americans to celebrate here.

And of course, less than a hundred years later, that new nation, the United States of America, turned the largest army in its history — after its success in the Civil War — the Grand Army of the Republic around to the West and was set on the annihilation of the American Indian in the name of Manifest Destiny.

The British and later American cultures on this continent have, for the most part, followed a policy of genocide in their dealings with the American Natives. If you look at a map of the U.S., the one spot where the Native Americans still live in their ancestral lands and have retained the dignity of their culture to any great degree, is in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico.

Despite the “Black Legend” of the Spaniard, it is here that the most sharing of food, culture trade, crafts and intermarriage has occurred. The entire East Coast of our country is covered with Indian names of rivers and towns that no one knows the meaning of because the Native Americans who spoke those languages have been eliminated.

In the name of human decency and the rejection of hypocrisy, the celebration of the Declaration of Independence on our Plaza and its eventual effect on America Indians should be addressed.

Diana Montoya Capshaw is a lifelong Santa Fean and a retired teacher from the Santa Fe Public Schools.

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