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Workers for the City of Albuquerque remove a sculpture of Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate, a colonial governor of what today is New Mexico. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

Native Americans are pushing for the removal of statues memorializing conquistadors, particularly in the Southwest, as the country continues to reckon with systemic racism in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

The big picture: Native Americans have long claimed the statues honor colonizers who ravaged their communities, enslaved their people and committed other atrocities, AP reports. Some Hispanic and Latino communities argue against removing the statues, however, claiming that doing so erases history and expunges Hispanic culture, The Guardian reports.

The other side: Some view the conquistadors as resistance in their own right against the "dominance that Anglos have often wielded," The New York Times writes.

  • The Spanish Embassy in the U.S. has said it will defend Spanish legacy in America and will continue educational efforts for “the reality of our shared history to be better known and understood,” per AP.

The state of play: Protestors in San Francisco and Los Angeles have toppled statues of Junípero Serra, according to USA Today. Serra founded many of California's missions, which were established to convert Native Americans to Christianity.

  • A statue of Diego de Vargas in Santa Fe, N.M., has also been removed. He reconquered areas of what today are New Mexico and Arizona following the Pueblo Revolt in the 17th century.
  • The statue of Juan Ponce de León was vandalized in Miami, covered in spray paint and rotten eggs. De León led the first European expedition to what is today Florida.

Zoom in: Controversy has clouded statues honoring Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate in Albuquerque, N.M., for years. The city recently ordered the statue to be removed and taken to storage after protesters threatened to topple it, AP notes.

  • The 16th-century conquistador came to America with the intention of colonizing the Southwest. He ordered the killing of 800 people in Acoma Pueblo, sent Indigenous girls to convents in Mexico City, enslaved adolescents and ordered his men to amputate a foot of at least 24 male captives, the Times notes.
“For the first time in many years, we don’t have to stare at Oñate. The presence of that statue was an act of violence upon Pueblo people from the moment it was put up and now, finally, it’s gone.”
— Elena Ortiz, a Red Nation leader, told the Santa Fe New Mexican

The bottom line: Chris Eyre, a Cheyenne-Arapaho filmmaker, told The New York Times, "Trump asked if all this stops with Washington or Jefferson. For me, that's actually where it starts because we need to go back a whole lot further to examine the crimes upon which these lands were claimed."

Go deeper

Of 922 powerful Americans, 180 are people of color

A New York Times investigation found that of more than 900 powerful officials — including executives and prominent positions — only about 20% identify as people of color.

Why it matters: While 40% of Americans identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, multiracial or other, representation of those groups at the highest levels of corporate power is sparse, per the Times.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.