Past and Present Collide in El Paso

Monday, July 14, 2008

El Paso is home to the largest bronze equestrian statue in the world – of Spanish Conquistador Juan de Oñate. A new documentary, “The Last Conquistador,” recounts how the area’s Native Americans opposed the statue because of Oñate's 1598 foray into New Mexico that led to the deaths of two out of every three Native Americans there. Christina Ibarra co-directed and co-produced the film, which premieres July 15 on PBS.


Christina Ibarra

Comments [8]

WB Goodnight from Taos, New Mexico

Motivations that guided his actions.
Doctrine of Discovery: The Roman Catholic Church & various popes established a world papal jurisdiction, which created a legal responsibility for the Church to work for a universal Christian commonwealth. This papal responsibility & the Crusades led holy war's against infidels. Seizure of lands authorized by proclamations called papal bulls. These bulls allowed outright confiscation of property & sovereign rights of heathens.
The Requerimiento. Informed natives that they must except Spanish missionaries & sovereignty or be annihilated. It was required to be read aloud to natives before hostilities or just war could legally ensue. It also informed the natives of their obligation to hear the gospel & told them their territory had been donated to Spain. If natives refused the Catholic Church, the Spanish King & admit priest, then Spain was justified in waging just war on them.
All motivated by greed, economic & political interest of European's to share, the lands, & assets gained in the New World instead of engaging in expensive wars fighting over them. Native People lost property & governmental rights immediately.
Conquest goals are the same only the battlefields changed. Today we fight against a powerful enemy that continues along the same principle, “domination”.

Who’s the real criminal? Oñate was only a player & a very bad one at that.

Aug. 01 2008 12:30 PM
Isela Laca from El Paso, Texas

The protest against the creation of The Equestrian Statue begin long, long before the film makers came into the scene. Many of us, Mexicas and other Native American brothers and sisters, voiced our opposition to the creation and erecting of the statue. Our voices were not heard.
Housser demonstrated no responsibilty to the impact the statue would have within the El Paso community, which, mostly consist of US citizens of Mexican descent. We know our history. Would our community tolerate a statue of Mousollini or Hitler; certainly, not. We do not tolerate the statue of Oñate. Housser glorified himself and competed with his father in creating such a huge statue. Is this making him feel better...I wonder.

Valadez made a comment at the El Paso Chamizal Theater, after a preview of the film, and told Housser that he loved him?? I wondered why. A showing of the film was done again at The El Paso Main Library and a discussion was led by Professor of History at UTEP, Dr. Yolanda Leyva and John Valadez. Valadez was extremely rude to Dr. Yolanda Leyva. If the film opened up controvery, should there not be equanimity between both controversies? Mexicas and other Native Americans are not the "Sleeping Giant"; we know how to speak and express ourselves and have every right to be heard.

Jul. 17 2008 12:46 AM
Doris from Virginia

This film shows how greatly insensitive we still are to the plight of Native People who have been the victims of genocide. It certainly would not be reasonable to expect Jewish people to tolerate a statue of Hitler.

Jul. 16 2008 05:29 PM
Northlander from North America

The conquistadors remain among us. Surely they will reside for eternity in the deepest depths of the underworld with whom they pay tribute with this monsterous statue for eternity.

Jul. 16 2008 10:18 AM
Mickey Bitsko from Downtown Manhattan

Re my previous comment: the statue of Villa is still there. A pretty good statue worth checking out.

Jul. 14 2008 01:00 PM
Mickey Bitsko from Downtown Manhattan

Interesting guest with an interesting story. Reminds me of the equestrian statue of Pancho Villa rearing back on his horse in downtown Tucson in the eighties, which ticked off the white establishment because Villa had once led a raid on the Old Pueblo. The statue was fittingly erected where there was a thriving barrio until the city government decided to bulldoze it to built their civic buildings in the sixties and seventies.

Jul. 14 2008 12:58 PM
julie from New Jersey

I'm from New Mexico, and remember a situation a couple of years ago where the City of Albuquerque put up a statue of Onate, and it's foot was chopped off, mimicking what he did to Acoma men when he attacked there. There was a lot of controversy, still, after several hundred years. I don't remember how it came out, did your guest follow this incident?

Jul. 14 2008 12:52 PM
hjs from 11211

so this should be seen as a genocide memorial

Jul. 14 2008 12:04 PM

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