OUT WEST ROUNDUP | Santa Fe fiesta to drop conquistador reenactment
Author: Associated Press - August 10, 2018 - Updated: August 23, 2018
Reenactment of conquistador reclaiming Santa Fe will end
SANTA FE — An annual reenactment of a 17th-century Spanish conquistador reclaiming Santa Fe from Native Americans after an uprising will end amid protests that it whitewashed a dark period in New Mexico history.
Organizers of the annual Fiesta de Santa Fe said they would discontinue the event known as the Entrada after months of closed-door discussions about how to resolve growing discord over its significance.
The event was performed each autumn on Santa Fe Plaza during the annual fiesta and has become a symbol of colonialism for some Native Americans, as well as a painful reminder of New Mexico’s bloody past.
“The Entrada as we have known it will no longer be part of the fiesta for all of the obvious reasons of what it causes in continuing that representation of the past,” said Regis Pecos, a spokesman for the groups.
Various stakeholders, including the Santa Fe Fiesta Council and the Caballeros de Vargas, a fraternal organization that put on the reenactment, agreed to return to the original intent of a proclamation signed in 1712 that calls for a celebration “with Vespers, Mass, Sermon and Procession through the Main Plaza.”
Details were still being worked out, but Pecos, a former governor of Cochiti Pueblo, said there are plans for a revised series of events to commemorate the negotiation of reconciliation.
The Entrada — Spanish for the entry — depicted the re-entry of conquistador Don Diego de Vargas into Santa Fe after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Historians have said the reenactment lacked proper context about the events. Others called it revisionist history. The dramatization, for example, didn’t mention the threat of force that de Vargas used to reconquer Santa Fe or the years of bloodshed and brutality that followed.
Opposition to the Entrada dates to at least 1977, when the All Indian Pueblo Council formally expressed its disapproval of the Fiesta de Santa Fe “for its offensive display depicted by the reenactment.”
New Mexico to appeal ruling on adequacy of school funding
ALBUQUERQUE — A judge’s ruling won’t end the legal fight over whether New Mexico’s funding for public schools is adequate.
Public Education Department officials said the state will appeal state District Judge Sarah Singleton’s ruling late last month that New Mexico must provide funding to public schools to ensure at-risk students receive a sufficient education.
Advocacy groups and school districts sued in 2014, accusing the state of failing to meeting constitutional obligations to provide a sufficient education for all students.
The case highlighted the plight of English-language learners, Native American youth and students from low-income families.
Singleton’s ruling gave the state 60 days to create a plan and set an April 15 deadline for ensuring that schools are adequately funded to provide at-risk students a sufficient education.
Armored dinosaur with spiky head unveiled at Utah museum
SALT LAKE CITY — A dinosaur that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail has been unveiled at a museum in Utah.
The species of ankylosaur was a squat plant-eater that roamed southern Utah on four legs about 76 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous Period. At that time, the desert state was hot and humid, covered with slow-moving streams and rivers as well as large conifer trees, paleontologist Randall Irmis said.
It was about as long as a large alligator and stood at a height that would have been about waist-high for a tall human. It likely used its distinctive clubbed tail and armor for protection, though they could also have been used for display.
The fossil unveiled at the Natural History Museum of Utah was first discovered in 2008 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a rich dinosaur repository in southern Utah.
The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has vast coal reserves inside a sprawling national monument that was one of two President Donald Trump ordered downsized last year. The spot where the fossil was found remains within Grand Staircase-Escalante boundaries, though areas that are now outside the boundaries also have fossil potential, Irmis said.
Researchers were expecting it to have smooth bony armor on its skull like other North American ankylosaurs, but were surprised to find evidence that it instead had spiky armor on its head and snout, similar to fossils found in Asia.
Paleontologists believe the animals migrated to North America several times over the eons when lowered sea levels allowed them to cross a land bridge.
The species was dubbed Akainacephalus johnsoni to recognize Randy Johnson, a retired chemist and museum volunteer who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly freeing the skull from rock and debris.
Along with a complete skull, the fossil also includes the distinctive tail club, large parts of its spinal vertebral column and parts of its body armor, including two neck rings and spiked armor plates, the museum said in a statement.
Company to experiment with drones in federal pilot
OVERLAND PARK, Kansas — With the prospect of Amazon and UPS drones dropping packages at your door and farmers surveying their fields from above, federal aviation officials are looking to experiment with looser airspace regulations.
The state of Kansas and Black & Veatch are helping.
Black & Veatch, an Overland Park-based engineering firm, is working with the Kansas Department of Transportation on a federal initiative announced in May by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. Kansas is one of several sites chosen for a federal pilot program that will help determine whether federal regulations could be eased to boost use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in rural areas.
Kansas and other pilot sites could inform future Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
“As drones become more mainstream with their versatility, these projects in Kansas and elsewhere are key in testing all applications of these unmanned aircraft systems and, if successful, may ease airspace rules for everyone’s betterment,” said Jamare Bates, head of Black & Veatch’s unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAS, operations.
Black & Veatch said in a press release that it will help test drones beyond the line of site of the operator, which is currently barred by the FAA. Testing will focus on inspecting infrastructure and improving precision in agriculture by helping farmers better use seeds, pesticides and fertilizer.
“A drone’s promise of giving a bird’s eye view of any problematic area of cropland — and getting (drone)-delivered treatment for it — comes at a time when producers face mounting pressure to meet food demand,” the release says.
Drones also could help farmers take high-definition images or video of assets, inspect fields and gather data.
11-year-old girl catches piranha relative in Oklahoma lake
OKLAHOMA CITY — An 11-year-old girl has quite the fish tale: A rare pacu with human-like teeth chomped down on the worm at the end of her line while she was fishing with her grandparents and brother in an Oklahoma lake.
But Kennedy Smith isn’t exaggerating when she describes her catch. Caddo County Game Warden Tyler Howser confirms that the fish was a pacu, a relative of the piranha that is native to South America and can grow up to 50 pounds.
Kennedy’s fish weighed about 1 pound, according to Howser and Kennedy’s grandmother Sandra Whaley.
Kennedy says she initially was “really excited” to have caught a fish in late July in Fort Cobb Lake, about 55 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. She was shocked when the fish bit her grandmother, as Whaley removed the hook from its mouth.
“I was confused because I knew that fish with teeth are not normal. It was weird. They were human-like and that made it even weirder,” Kennedy told The Associated Press.
Whaley said she suffered no ill-effects from the bite.
Howser said the fish was likely purchased as a pet and was released into the lake when it grew too large for the aquarium of the family that owned it.
Pacu are considered an invasive species that can destroy the native Oklahoma fish ecosystem and habitat, so the fish Kennedy caught was taken by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and destroyed.