By City of Santa Fe
Following a year of conversations filled with respectful and principled dialogue, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, City of Santa Fe, Los Caballeros De Vargas, and Santa Fe Fiesta Council came together today in an historic meeting to exchange mutual expressions of gratitude and to mark the tremendous progress made toward reconciliation. Today is the culmination of a process launched just over a year ago by a letter from Los Caballeros De Vargas President Thomas Baca-Gutierrez to the All Pueblo Council of Governors, followed by the Governors’ official response, and the dialogue those letters created in the interest of shared faith and common core values.
All Pueblo Council of Governors Chairman, Governor E. Paul Torres, said in part, “This a momentous and historic occasion, one that generations yet to be born will reflect upon and express gratitude for the leaders of this time who recognized the conflicts of our past that haunted us and threatened to destroy us. By our collective courage, we resolved ourselves to acknowledge the pain and the suffering inherent in first encounters. This was a time when we refused to accept the threats of division that could have destroyed the spirit of our beloved homelands. Instead we chose to take the high road to resolve our issues in the name of peace.”
He added, “I thank Mr. Thomas Baca-Gutierrez and Ms. Melissa Mascareñas for their courage and leadership. They deserve the accolades for taking the first giant step toward this ultimate reconciliation. I also wish to express my gratitude and appreciation to Governor Regis Pecos for his vision and guidance throughout this process. We all are indebted to him for taking us through a principled process to achieve an extraordinary outcome we can be all proud of.”
Chairman Torres’ formal statement is included below and the remarks he made at today’s meeting are attached.
Thomas Baca-Gutierrez, President of Los Caballeros De Vargas, responded by saying, “Wonders and miracles still happen in Santa Fe. We managed to come together with our indigenous brothers and sisters in a moment of peace and reconciliation. Hard work and sacrifice have produced a day which all will remember. The Caballeros De Vargas and our Native brothers and sisters have come together through our Lady of Peace to continue our peaceful co-existence and harmony.”
He added, “Our Lady of Peace has won victory this year with all parties at the Fiesta celebrating our common faith and our core values. Peace, love, respect, and reconciliation. Much work and many meetings have produced, through the intercession of Our Lady, a moment in time when all have come together to celebrate Fiesta de Santa Fe in love and forgiveness.”
The parties also committed to continue the important work of reconciliation, recognizing that it has only begun. In the month bookended by Fiesta on Friday, September 7th and Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, October 8th, the City and others will sponsor programs, events, and initiatives to bring unity to our community, culminating with an event during the City’s Indigenous Peoples Day celebration.
The traditional Fiesta de Santa Fe will mark the beginning of this month-long program. Starting on the morning of September 7th, the Fiesta will feature a series of events that acknowledge the historic nature of these conversations and invite the people of Santa Fe to join in the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue. Here is the program for the day:
At 6:00am, the traditional Pregón de la Fiesta Mass will be celebrated at Rosario Chapel. In the spirit of shared faith, numerous Pueblo governors have committed to attend the mass along with representatives from the City of Santa Fe. Archbishop John Wester will preside. Continuing a long tradition, there will be a performance outside the chapel by the Po’Pay’s Pueblo Dancers while participants enjoy hot chocolate and biscochitos.
All parties will reconvene in the Courtyard of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Governor Paul Torres, Chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors; Thomas Baca-Gutierrez, president of Los Caballeros De Vargas; Manuel Garcia, immediate past president of Los Caballeros De Vargas; Melissa Mascareñas, President of the Fiesta Council; Archbishop John Wester; and Mayor Alan Webber will offer remarks reflecting on the dialogues of the past 12 months and articulating the path ahead. All parties will then sign a proclamation which acknowledges the history of Santa Fe, recognizes shared values, and commits the community to the hard work of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Immediately following the ceremony, Los Caballeros will welcome the invited Governors, Church representatives, and City officials to the traditional Caballeros Breakfast, continuing this longstanding Fiesta tradition.
At 2:00pm on the Plaza, the Caballeros, Fiesta Council, Archdiocese, Interfaith Leadership Alliance, and others will host Celebración de la Communidad de Fe (Celebration of Community Faith). The event will open with prayers in Tewa from Pueblo representatives, followed by prayers and blessing from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and representatives of the Interfaith Leadership Alliance. The prayers will focus on peace and reconciliation, including a prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary—the original name for Nuestra Senora de la Paz. All in attendance will then be invited to share in the singing of hymns that carry a message of peace and unity.
All events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the breakfast.
Representatives of the other groups involved offered the following statements on this historic occasion:
Melissa Mascareñas, President, Santa Fe Fiesta, Inc.: “This transformative decision affords us an opportunity to embrace all cultures, which is what has drawn people to Santa Fe for centuries. Santa Fe Fiesta, Inc., was fortunate to have participated in this historic decision between the All Pueblo Council of Governors and Los Caballeros De Vargas.
We laud the leadership of Regis Pecos, and all who agreed to participate. We look forward to centuries of Fiesta de Santa Fe where we promote family unity, tradition and culture. Santa Fe Fiesta has created a tradition of colorful music, vibrant dance and song, together with a spirit of friendliness, hospitality and acceptance.”
Archbishop John Wester: “All of us in this corner of the Southwest appreciate the sacredness and beauty of the land we call New Mexico. But ultimately, it is the people living here who make it a Land of Enchantment.
That is why I am so grateful to have been part of a process that has brought us all together to celebrate the unity between our diverse and rich cultures. Conscious of the struggles that have divided us, past and present, leaders from all our traditions have met this past year to discover new ways of celebrating what unites us, thus moving us from conflict to communion. With an abiding appreciation for our ancestors and our traditions, we have deepened our realization that we hold much in common and we have forged a way forward to allow us to publicly celebrate this harmony.
We look forward to these future celebrations that will help us to create new bonds of unity in the midst of a rich tapestry of diversity. And We thank God for the process that has led us to this moment of communion here in Santa Fe and beyond.”
Mayor Alan Webber: “Today we can pause and look into each other’s eyes with thanks and generosity of spirit. To the Caballeros for their courage; to the Fiesta Council for their loving kindness; to the Church for its faith; and to the City for its inclusivity—to all who have come together to bring us to this day, we can all express the gratitude that is a core value of our community.
And with today, we can turn our eyes and our hearts and our minds to the future—to building on the work of today to create a new way forward for Santa Fe. What happens today is not the end; it is the beginning.”
Regis Pecos, Past Governor, Cochiti Pueblo: “Our elders teach us that when we make decisions by our core values, we will always make the right decision. We came together to make a genuine offer and commitment to peace as our desired outcome. We allowed our shared core values to guide us toward reconciliation. When we wavered, when we deviated, we were guided back by one another to our defined core values.
We listened to one another, we learned from one another. We acknowledged our complex truths and we chose to embrace peace and unity. We put others before us and we let go of our egos. We shared our journey in this time taking the high road and we were deeply blessed and our lives enormously enriched. This outcome is the gift to all who wish and desire to embrace the spirit of goodwill and peaceful co-existence. It was an incredible honor to part of a profound experience. I thank all who walked with us to this special point in our journey. From this point, we all walk together. When we fall, we know someone will pick us up.”
Chairman E. Paul Torres (Formal Statement): “This a momentous and historic occasion, one that generations yet to be born will reflect upon and express gratitude for the leaders of this time who recognized the conflicts of our past that haunted us and threatened to destroy us. By our collective courage, we resolved ourselves to acknowledge the pain and the suffering inherent in first encounters. This was a time when we refused to accept the threats of division that could have destroyed the spirit of our beloved homelands. Instead we chose to take the high road to resolve our issues in the name of peace.
Working toward reconciliation in any situation is challenging and hard work. It is not possible to reconcile differences if we are not willing to acknowledge the cause of our conflict in frank and honest ways. Nor is it possible if respect is not accorded to one another. And if at the core to resolve any conflict, there is not a deep sense of love for the people and their wellbeing to put them at the forefront, reconciliation is not possible.
What we have witnessed in the yearlong process is a deep and abiding faith and trust to address the issues for our common wellbeing mentally, physically and spiritually. It meant being truthful about the deep wounds inflicted but not to apportion blame. Acknowledging the past to learn from to be better people and gift these essential core values to the next generation to guide them is deeply gratifying.
No one is rewriting history. No one is taking anything away from the other. It is putting to rest the vestiges of colonialism, reminders of the layers of inflictions, impositions and threats to our existence and reminders of a tumultuous past and replace it with a celebration and recognition that we are the offspring of those times, the communion of cultures. We are today part of the same family. What we do to the other, we do to ourselves. Let us be one with one another while we celebrate our diversity.