“I pray that liberation becomes something possible in the minds of all Native people”


Photo courtesy of Vanessa Bowen

by Jennifer Marley

Jennifer is from San Ildefonso Pueblo. She is a lead organizer with The Red Nation, Vice President of University of New Mexico (UNM) KIVA Club, and a student at UNM

On Friday, my predictions of increased violence from police and Entrada attendees came true. Everything we have been trying to bring to light was shown loud and clear; the logic of conquest is alive and well here in New Mexico. For those of you who have not read any of the recent articles pertaining to the situation, I will give a brief recap.

Santa Fe police created illegal boundaries made to corral peaceful protesters on public property. Anyone with basic knowledge of criminal trespass law knows that no one can “trespass” on public property. This alone has caught the attention of national legal organizations. The barricade that police set up was deemed a “free speech zone,” but it was more akin to a reservation. The Santa Fe Police Department’s (SFPD) upfront lack of regard for the basic civil rights of protesters is something that exemplifies what I mean when I say “it’s only free speech if it’s racist.” At one point a Native man was arrested for criminal trespassing because he was wearing a bandana on his head in the plaza; because he was simply existing in that space. With the presence of an onsite inmate check-in station it was made clear that SFPD intended to make arrests from the get-go. They protected an ongoing celebration of conquest and genocide with what the Santa Fe New Mexican called “a small army of police” on the ground and SWAT police armed with sniper rifles. Eight of us total were arrested. This was the length law enforcement went to despite the fact that the Entrada was moved two hours ahead of its scheduled time within a 30 minute notice, and shortened to 20 minutes in total length.

It is apparent that my arrest was planned prior to my presence in the space (I did not arrive until the Entrada was over).

As someone who has been a high profile figure in the movement to abolish the Entrada and a key media contact, I was made to be an example of what happens when Pueblo/Native people show dissent. SFPD displayed a common tactic of political intimidation that has been seen throughout history to quell anti-imperialist movements. Taken as a symbolic trophy for the city, attempts where made to demoralize me and my comrades. At age 21 I was taken as a political prisoner to actively suppress the recent resurgence in Pueblo resistance. If you have seen any footage of my arrest, it is clear that my charges are not only false, but completely absurd. What has struck me as especially eerie after the fact is that the location where I was arrested, on Lincoln Street between Palace and Marcy, is historically the location where a gallows once stood; a gallows used by Spanish invaders to execute Pueblo resisters. The continued settler colonial violence looks like conquistadors and cavalrymen in the uniform of a cop, carrying out the public brutalization of Native people and their allies.

I have nothing to feel shame for. In fact, I remained in high sprits for the duration of my incarceration because what came of this was the exposition of the hatred for Native discontent and existence in a space that was once known as “The White Shell Water Place,” a Tewa Pueblo decimated by the settlement that is Santa Fe and which now caters to wealthy Whites. My heart is overjoyed by the overwhelming support my comrades and I have received. I know that after I was arrested, the crowd of protesters were not demoralized but powered through with a righteous and raging spirt that made it clear that we will not submit, and that we never did submit to Spanish or US occupation.

Now, something I must address is opposition to active political resistance from my own Pueblo people. If you wish to defend and protect the validity of a permit by the Fiestas Council (which has no legality in the exclusion people from the space), you have clearly chosen to uphold and defend an already invalid settler state. The myth that Pueblo people are docile and submissive is one that was constructed and placed upon us. We have held on to so much of our cultural life ways and sovereign autonomy because of the righteous violence we enacted against the invaders who wished to delete us permanently.

I hope and pray that all realize the necessity for a long-term Pueblo resistance movement. I pray that liberation becomes something possible in the minds of all Native people.

This movement is not just about the Entrada. It is not just about revisionist history and the constant glorification of Spanish conquest and US imperialism. This movement is about the protection of our land, livelihood, nationhood, bodies, and sacred sites. Let us not forget the havoc the extractive industry wreaks on our lands. Let us not look away from the destruction caused by LANL, gas and oil development, and the nuclear industry. We need look no further than Bears Ears, Mesa Verde, of Valles Calderas to see how our most holy places are constantly under attack. Our bodies are constantly under attack with epidemics of suicide, addiction, sexual violence, and domestic violence. These epidemics are not a result of our personal shortcomings as individuals or as a people; they are the result of centuries of systemic violence carried out by capitalism, settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and white supremacy. Only when these institutions are destroyed can we experience liberation and the establishment of true nationhood.

I believe the energy and spirit we saw cumulate over the past month leading up to this moment indicates the start of a new era in which Pueblo people can once again organize for liberation. This is happening in tandem with movements for liberation worldwide from Santa Fe, to Charlottesville, to Palestine. Pueblo resistance never died, it is as resilient as we are, and it will persist for centuries to come. Be well, relatives.

Kuu Dah Wo ha/Ny’tra