Santa Fe mayor hits roadblock in removal plan of obelisk honoring Kit Carson

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It just got a lot harder for the mayor of Santa Fe to get an obelisk, honoring Kit Carson, taken down. KRQE News 13 has learned the federal ground the Carson Obelisk sits on, is on the National Register of Historic Places. “He was not a friend of the Native American people,” said New Mexico State Historian Rob Martinez.

Even though Kit Carson marched the Navajo people away from their sacred home to Fort Sumner and committed other crimes like, “murder” and “scalping,” history largely remembers Carson as a frontiersman and Union Army soldier.

In June, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber called for the removal of the Carson Obelisk, along with several other monuments in the city, in hopes of quelling potential protests and violence surrounding monuments that honor controversial historic figures.

“There have been protests before. I mean this isn’t the first time people have come out against these monuments,” said Martinez. Following the toppling of the controversial obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza last week, many feel the Carson Obelisk could become the next target.

After the Civil War, in 1883, the obelisk was erected to honor Carson outside the building that was originally designed to be the territorial capitol for New Mexico though that building became the Santiago E. Campos U.S. Courthouse. In 1973, the courthouse and its greater grounds, including the Carson Obelisk, were added to the National Register of Historic Places and, therefore, are protected by the Historic Preservation Act.

Any changes to the grounds would require cutting through a lot of red tape, including the federal council’s approval.

“Due to the historic status of the obelisk and its control by a federal agency, what is called the “Section 106” process would apply to a modification/removal of that obelisk,” said Kristine Mihelcic, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

The Section 106 process is administered by the National Parks Administration. “Our Attorney is scheduling time with the federal representatives to discuss what the City’s role can be in engaging the Section 106 process,” said Mihelcic.

It is not clear how long the removal process would take or if it will happen at all. Across the state, Albuquerque Public Schools is considering renaming Kit Carson Elementary Schools, and back in 2014, the Taos Town Council changed the name of Kit Carson Memorial Park to Red Willow Park.

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