SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Tourism Department recently announced they’re going to refresh their ‘New Mexico True’ brand, aimed at bringing tourists back to the state. However, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, along with Pueblo and Indigenous groups said part of the campaign is offensive.
“When I got to New Mexico, that was mine,” said a voice-over on the New Mexico True promotional video. “As soon as I saw it, that was my country.” Last week, the state’s Tourism Department released this 60-second promo clip. The narration over the video features a quote from the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe is famous for drawing inspiration for her paintings from New Mexico’s landscape and cultural history. Tourists who were hoping to visit the O’Keeffe Museum said they liked the video.
“We’re here for such a short period of time it makes you want to come back,” said the women. “The video that was produced by the Tourism Department is absolutely on point,” said a man named Clark who did not give his last name.
However, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe had the opposite reaction. Screenshots of the Museum’s Instagram stories from last week said:
“The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum does not support the use of Georgia O’Keeffe quotes describing the New Mexico landscape as ‘her country’ or claiming ‘that was mine’. While these quotes are from the artist, it is now clear that this is the language of possession, colonization, and erasure. Such language is offensive, insulting and insensitive. We strongly discourage the use of these problematic phrases, as well as ‘O’Keeffe Country’ to promote tourism or represent Northern New Mexico. The O’Keeffe Museum recognizes the importance of tourism to the state economy. However, we are advocates for informed tourism that is inclusive of all of our stories and educates visitors on the nuances of our past and the richness of our multicultural present. The O’Keeffe is in open conversation with the NM Department of Tourism to encourage dialogue that supports informed tourism and economic opportunity for all of our communities.”FROM THE SCREENSHOTS OF THE GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM INSTAGRAM STORIES
The Three Sisters Collective, a Pueblo-Indigenous women-centered grassroots collective, pushed back on the video. They said the video was mortifying and describing it on their social media as ‘romantic settler voyeurism.’
“It’s literally an erasure of Indigenous people of this area,” said Dr. Christina M. Castro with the Three Sisters Collective. “We will no longer be dehumanized this way. We are living, thriving cultures and we are here in New Mexico and we expect better from our Tourism Department.”
The Tourism Department declined to interview but said in an email, in part, that the excerpt with the quote is not a part of any live campaign. The museum also declined an interview but said in an email, in part, they stand by their statements.