The Santa Fe Fiesta, Reinvented: Staking Ethno-Nationalist Claims to a Disappearing Homeland

Sarah Bronwen Horton

The Santa Fe Fiesta, ReinventedThe Santa Fe Fiesta, ReinventedThe Santa Fe Fiesta, Reinvented

“One Friday each September, after the rush of tourists has subsided, a procession of young men dressed in seventeenth-century Spanish colonial attire files into the Plaza, the central square in Santa Fe, New Mexico,” begins Sarah Horton’s book. The Entrada, a reenactment of Spanish general Diego de Vargas’s negotiation with a Pueblo chieftain for the return of Spanish settlers following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, is the core event of the annual Fiesta, begun in 1919 by the Museum of New Mexico. Horton explores how this commemoration has been transformed from its original purpose of piquing the curiosity of tourists into an assertion of Hispano nationalism and noble ancestry. “By foregrounding the role of La Conquistadora, a sacred icon, in the event, they stake claim to New Mexico as a sacred ‘homeland’ granted divine sanction by the city’s divine patroness,” says Horton. This “invented tradition” is more popular than ever, even as the occupancy of Hispanos of the city and the region has grown increasingly tenuous.

John Nieto-Phillips, a historian and professor of Latino Studies at Indiana University, calls The Santa Fe Fiesta, Reinvented “a meticulously researched, wonderfully written book that promises to change the way we think about Latino nationalism. . . . By exploring the rich iconography, evolution, and meanings of the Santa Fe Fiesta, [Horton] demonstrates the power of modern traditions to express the spirit of a people in the face of their displacement.”

Find out more about The Santa Fe Fiesta, Reinvented by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Follow us: