Tuesday, September 14, 2004

HIDING MOUNTAIN SPIRITS

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 14, 2004

When you enter Milner Plaza on Museum Hill, there’s no way you’ll miss the striking 18-foot bronze statue of an Apache mountain-spirit dancer near the entrance of the Museum of American Arts and Culture.

Unless maybe you have campaign workers hold tall political banners to block the view of the huge statue.

That’s what happened Monday morning at the campaign appearance of Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards.

As Edwards spoke and took questions from crowd, campaign workers held big Kerry-Edwards banners that obscured the view of the 1995 work by San Carlos Apache sculptor Craig Dan Goseyun.

A local volunteer who helped set up the area for the Edwards stop said someone from the campaign told him that the statue should be hidden behind the signs because people from other parts of the country viewing photos or footage from the rally might think the hulking figure was a “war dancer.”

The items the dancer holds in his hands could be interpreted as weapons, the volunteer said he was told.

“I argued that they should show the statue,” the volunteer said. “This is the Southwest and it’s a beautiful statue.”

But that’s an argument he lost to the campaign higher-ups.

Ruben Pulido, a spokesman for the state Kerry-Edwards campaign, said Monday that he thinks the campaign put the banners in front of the statue because “it’s just good sign placement.”

“I agree it’s a beautiful statue,” Pulido said. “I just think (the campaign) just wanted to frame the shots.”

Dody Fugate, assistant curator for the state’s Archaeological Research Collection, said Monday that the Apache Mountain Spirit is not a warrior, but a healer.
“It’s a spirit from the mountain that produces rain and dances at healing ceremonies, and dances at girls’ puberty rites,” she said.

The tablita the dancer holds in one hand and the bull-roarer held above the dancer’s head represent lightning and thunder, Fugate said. “They’re weapons of healing,” she said.

More coverage of Edwards visit CLICK HERE

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