A sculpture on tribal land that honors women was vandalized with red paint and a cross with “Columbus Day”
Members of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo were hurting Monday and wondering why a sculpture on tribal land that honors women was vandalized with red paint and a cross with “Columbus Day” written on it. The sculpture had been unveiled and dedicated in July.
Jose Sierra Sr., cacique for the Ysleta de Sur Pueblo, said he learned of the vandalism Monday morning when he received a call from a tribal member asking why the statue was covered in paint. Sierra said the community is hurt by the action and wants to know why it happened.
“It was very sad for our pueblo because we just dedicated it in June,” Sierra said. “Some of the elders saw it and they were crying.”
Rick Quezada, director of cultural preservation at the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, said he wants to know who vandalized the sculpture.
“We need to find out who it was and we’re going to punish them to the fullest extent of the law,” Quezada said. “We want to deter people from coming in and vandalizing our property, especially with this type of statue.”
The 12-foot bronze sculpture was cast by artist Julio Sanchez De Alba. It depicts a woman named Nestora Granillo Piarote, a widely-known potter born and raised at Ysleta Del Sur. Piarote was born in 1849 and died in 1918. Tribal officials previously told the El Paso Times that Piarote has more than 800 descendants.
“She (Piarote) is a model to all native women, and women in general. When we did the statue, we were honoring the women of the pueblo,” Quezada said.
Activists say Columbus Day glorifies someone who was a violent colonist and whose actions led to the destruction of Native American civilizations.
Sierra said the Tigua community will offer a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.