Saturday, September 8, 2007

Soldiers' Monument, Santa Fe, New Mexico

How could the capital of a state be named "Holy Faith"? Surely some sensitive soul in multicultural America is offended, right? We'll save that subject for another time.

Our topic today is the monument that stands in the center of the historic Square in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Erected shortly after the War for Southern Independence, the obelisk recognizes the service of U.S. troops at the battles of Valverde and Glorieta Pass, where they "fought with rebels." It is said that the word "rebels," used here to describe Southern soldiers, is the only place where that word appears on a monument. At least that was the story told in 1880.

The monument goes on to hail those blue-clad warriors who fell "in battles with savage Indians." In 1973 a young man wearing a ponytail took it upon himself to chisel off the offending word, "savage."

His assumption was, of course, that in less enlightened times all Indians were labeled "savage," and such bigotry must be eradicated. It has since been pointed out that in the 1860s Southwest, the term "savage Indians" applied specifically to tribes such as the Apache and Navajo, not to the settled Pueblo Indians, who were often at war with the nomadic "savages" themselves.

But wait a minute! Should they be calling Southern patriots a bunch of "rebels"? Now that's offensive!

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