When John J. Valadez and Cristina Ibarra, learned that the city of El Paso had commissioned a sculptor to create a statue of Juan de Oñate, they knew they wanted to document the controversial public arts project that had come to be seen as a monument to culture by some, and as a glorification of genocide by others.
Why our community can’t respectfully acknowledge the dark edifice of our past and extend a somber embrace to our Indian brothers and sisters is perplexing to us. After all, as Mexican-Americans we do share in their history, their culture; and it is their blood that runs through our veins.
The Last Conquistador follows the heated debates between the city council that had commissioned the work and the divided reactions from the city’s residents — and John Houser, the artist who had never anticipated that his work would create such a firestorm of controversy.
Do you think the opposing communities around the monument can make peace with each other? Do you have any questions for the filmmakers? Enter them here, and the filmmakers will answer them the week of July 14, 2008