Debate over Santa Fe obelisk continues

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SANTA FE, N.M. – The debate continues over the obelisk that once stood in Santa Fe’s plaza. There was a demonstration Saturday in support of rebuilding it. 

Protesters tore it down nearly two and a half years ago, their concerns included representing violence against Native Americans.

Some of those pushing for the obelisk to go back up – with some added context – want it to recognize the Union soldiers who liberated New Mexico during the Civil War.

This weekend marked the anniversary of the “Battle of Glorieta Pass,” which was a turning point in the war, after the Confederacy already occupied cities as far north as Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

But, after the Confederates were gone, the story gets complicated. Many members of the Union Army went on to commit acts of violence against Native Americans.

On Saturday, KOB 4 spoke with people who are passionate about seeing the monument rebuilt, and others who think what’s left of it should be torn down. KOB 4 also spoke with some who would like to see something new in its place that symbolizes both sides. 

Nevertheless, the conversation over this monument is far from over: 

“The obelisk is a monument to genocide no matter what anyone says it is.”

“I don’t want to get political, but there is a woke mentality, woke meaning over the top, politically correct, judging the past by today’s standers. We are here to say ‘No more.’”

“They took down the spellings that were there, and I see it before I guess it had savage on it, and they chiseled it out, and it was really offensive.”

Those in support of restoring the statue say it signifies a significant Civil War battle fought on New Mexico soil.

“Today, we are fulfilling a promise, we are marking the commemoration of the 161st anniversary of one of the major Civil War battles called the ‘Gettysburg of the west,'” said Daniel Ortiz, founder of the Hispanic Anti-defamation Association. “The soldier’s monument was erected to honor the New Mexican soldiers who fought in the battle of Glorieta Pass who gave up their lives, there was over 375 casualties.”

While the conversation surrounding what the statue represents are divided, what all sides can agree on is it can’t stay a big brown box forever. 

“It represents what our community stood for, and now it’s also representing what our community is clearly lacking which is leadership,” said Justin Marmion. “Instead of destroying that monument we could have erected a monument right here in downtown to commemorate our Pueblo brothers, and sisters that are part of our community.”

Santa Fe city councilors put a proposal to rebuild the obelisk statue with more culturally inclusive language on the back burner. That proposal was met with more protests during a city council meeting.

For now, that big brown box containing what’s left of the obelisk will remain in the plaza.

Watch the video above for more.