Chiseling away at the Santa Fe plaza’s past

Conversations with friends about the destruction of the Santa Fe Plaza obelisk this week sent me to the Newspapers.com archives of the Santa Fe New Mexican, where I started working the year the word “savage” was chiseled away.

I found the original story from Aug. 8, 1974. I found that it was below-the-fold news on the day it was published. And, in a June 1974 piece by Santa Fe’s Fray Angelico Chavez, I found a proposition to end the controversy before the chisel was drawn.

Hopefully, you can expand the compressed pdf type on your computer if you want to read.

I don’t know if architect John Gaw Meem’s suggestion in 1967 to remove the obelisk to the state Capitol grounds would have relieved the obelisk controversy. And who knows what Roundhouse mayordomo Clay Buchanan, who probably was already busy concealing the Capitol with thickets of thorny vegetation, would have thought of the idea.

I also don’t know how much attention northern New Mexicans were paying at the time to Plaza renovation thoughts. The north was just a few months past the Tierra Amarilla courthouse raid.

I was reminded in the same conversation with friends that the New Mexico Legislature voted in 1997 to install a statue of Po’pay, a Tewa leader of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, as the second of the state’s two statues in the 50-state collection at the U.S. Capitol. The Po’pay statue was unveiled at the Capitol in 2005, joining the one of Sen. Dennis Chavez.

The Po’pay statue was crafted by Jemez Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua. The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Manny Aragon and state Rep. Nick Salazar, both Democrats, and signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson.

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