In Response to: The Dealmaker

The arrival of the Sept. 11 issue, with its cover story about Regis Pecos ’77’s skilled negotiations to transform Santa Fe’s Entrada ceremony, could not have been more timely. As history teachers at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, we were crafting a test question for our sophomores that would address the primary concept we’d examined in the first weeks of school: how accounts of the same history are shaped and used differently by varied populations depending on their cultural backgrounds, past political experiences, and current needs.

Our unit had begun in pre-Columbian American history and ended with the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. As we wrestled with a good essay question, copies of PAW hit our adjacent mailboxes. Not only did the story of the Entrada controversy dovetail perfectly with our course content, but Pecos’ compassionate but determined negotiation will be a model we reference as our classes continue discussing how Americans can face their history honestly while not remaining captive to it.

We were especially impressed by Pecos’ work with stakeholders to identify common ground, transforming a controversial ritual in a way that promises to validate multiple constituencies that have at one time or another suffered marginalization and oppression in the Southwest, while not distorting the hard truths of the specific history of 1690s Santa Fe.

In an era when “speaking truth” too often seems to mean strong-arming one’s opponents into resentful submission, this piece offers a hopeful alternative.

Gretchen Boger *08, Athan Biss ’05
Bryn Mawr, Pa.