Long a New Mexico icon, Spanish conquistador faces attacks

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Spanish conquistador, a New Mexico icon that has long been celebrated in art and honored at festivals as a homage to Hispanic heritage, is under attack.

A new generation of Native American and Latino activists in the state is demanding that conquistador images and reenactments be removed from schools, seals and celebrations. They say the figure's connection to colonialism and indigenous genocide makes the conquistador outdated.

Elena Ortiz of the Native American advocacy group Red Nation says activists want the conquistador expunged from public spaces to revise the region's narrative about itself. She says the conquistador glorifies indigenous genocide.

Some Hispanics say, however, that any removal of the conquistador is erasing history. Hispano Round Table of New Mexico chair Ralph Arellanes calls the protesters "ridiculous and crazy."

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