SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Police in New Mexico's capital city on Friday were investigating the partial destruction of a public monument to a 19th century frontiersman and U.S. soldier who had a leading role in the death of hundreds of Native Americans during Anglo-American settlement of the American West.
The monument to Christopher “Kit” Carson has been encircled by a plywood barrier for its own protection since 2020, when Santa Fe was swept by the movement to remove depictions of historical figures who mistreated Native Americans amid a national reckoning over racial injustice.
The monument's upper spire was toppled Thursday evening. Photos showed an abandoned pickup truck and cable that may have been used to inflict the damage. Last year, the monument was splattered with red paint by activists on Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Carson carried out military orders to force the surrender of the Navajo people by destroying crops, livestock and homes. Many Navajos died during a forced relocation known as the Long Walk, starting in 1863, and during a years-long detention in eastern New Mexico.
The signing of the Navajo Treaty of 1868 signaled an end to the chapter, allowing the Navajos to return home to an area that has since become the United States' largest Native American reservation by territory and population.
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber issued a statement that described the latest damage to the monument as a “cowardly…