Mexicano Contributions to the Southwest Mexicano- Mexican- American
Mexican Cession • 1848- 80,000- 100,000 Mexicans living in what is now, U.S. territory. • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo granted citizenship to these people, the right to keep their property, & use their language. • Most of these promises weren’t kept. • Many Americans believed they were superior, white settlers pushed Mexicans off their land.
Prejudice Against Mexicano’s • Whites took Mexicano’s land • Made it illegal for Mexicano children to speak Spanish in schools. • Found ways to keep them from voting. • The government did little to protect Mexicano’s, despite protests.
Mexican Heritage • White settlers showed little respect for Mexicano’s but did borrow their heritage. • Spanish words & Mexican foods, laws, technology, & architecture all became a lasting part of the culture of the Southwest.
Mexicano Contributions • Mining • Cattle Ranching • Irrigated Farming • Food • Architecture • Laws • Entertainment
Mining • Mining in the West came in 3 waves: gold, silver, & copper. All 3 depended on the contribution of Mexican miners. • Mexicano’s came to the Southwest w/ a rich mining tradition, knew where to look for precious metals & how to get them from the ground. • Taught miners panning & brought the riffle box to the goldfields.
Mining Skills • Introduced panning- scoop up mud, swish away the sand & left with gold. • Riffle box: bottom of a long box was crossed w/ pieces of wood called riffles. As mud washed trough the box, the heavy gold sank & was trapped behind the riffles. Used extensively by Americans & Chinese. • Mexicano’s taught Americans how to get quartz out of the mountains. • Also showed miners how to use a simple arrastra, or grinding mill, to crush rock so they could easily remove gold.
Silver & Copper Mining • A Mexican miner sparked the West’s first big silver strike. • 1859, Henry Comstock was getting annoyed w/ all this “blue stuff” he was finding while looking for gold. • A Mexican miner said it was silver. In its first 20 years, the Comstock lode yielded over $300 million in gold & silver.
Copper • Mexicano’s discovered copper in the Southwest in the early 1800s. • When Americans began to mine copper in Arizona they turned to Mexicans for help. • By 1940 Arizona mines had produced $3 billion worth of copper that carried electricity & telephone calls to millions of homes across America.
Cattle Ranching • Cattle ranching in the west was built upon traditions brought north from Mexico. • Spanish colonists imported the first cattle to the Americas. • Soon there were millions of cattle in California & Texas. Mexicans taught Americans the cattle business from Mexican rancheros, or ranchers.
The Rancho • Western cattle ranching was nothing like dairy farming in the East. Western ranchos were much larger. • In the arid Southwest, large grants of land were needed to provide enough food & water for cattle herds. • Instead of dairy, in the West, they produced meat, hides & tallow (beef fat). • Cowboys were hired to care for the cattle.
The Roundup • Cowboys most important jobs were the rodeo, or roundup, @ branding. • Branding was essential b/c herds mixed together in unfenced grasslands. • As Americans took up ranching, they adopted the rancheros’ practice of branding cattle. • Cowboys, roundups, branding are all still part of ranch life in the West.
The Cowboy • Vaqueros admired for riding skills, roping, & handling cattle. American cowboys adopted their clothes, gear & much of their language. • Cowboy hats came from sombreros: shaded eyes, served as a water pail or pillow. • Leather chaps protect legs from cacti/sagebrush. • High-heeled, pointed-toe boots to easily slip into stirrups, the poncho, cowboy saddle w/ horn to tie steer, the lariat (rope for lassoing)
Cowboy Lingo • Bronco, stampede, corral, lasso, burro, buckaroo, vamoose, mesa, canyon, mesquite, chaparral- all taken from the Spanish language.
Sheep Raising • New Mexico’s most important industry was sheep raising. Americans saw the Spanish sheep-raising system in New Mexico, they soon adopted the system as their own. • Large-scale sheep raising spread into California. • 1862-1880, U.S. wool production went from 5 million to 22 million pounds per year.
Irrigated Farming • People in the East knew nothing about irrigation: plenty of rain. Southwest: 6 months w/out rain: irrigation essential. • Mexican settlers brought w/ them irrigation techniques developed centuries earlier in Spain & North Africa. • Borrowed from Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. • When settlers arrived, Pueblos irrigated 15,000-25,000 acres of crop in Rio Grande Valley.
Mexican System of Irrigation • 1st farmers redirect water from local streams to their field. Built dam of rocks, earth & brush across the stream. Water that backed up behind the dam was brought to fields: irrigation ditches. • To prevent wasting: carefully leveled fields into squares, each square marked off by a wall of earth high enough to hold water. As each square got soaked w/ water, they made a hole in the wall & water flowed to the next square.
American’s Fruit Basket • Americans used Mexicano crops & irrigation techniques to turn the Southwest into America’s fruit basket. • Grapes, dates, olives, apples, walnuts, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, & quinces. Lemons, limes, oranges. • With the help of Mexicano farm workers, American farmers transformed dry deserts into irrigated fruit orchards & citrus groves.
Mexican Food • Spain’s conquest of Mexico in 1521, created a Food Revolution. Spain came to Mexico for gold, great treasure: the food. Corn, tomatoes, chocolate/peanuts/vanilla/squash/avocados/ coconuts/sunflower seeds/chili peppers/beans. • Spain brought “Old World” to Mexico: pork/beef lamb/chicken/goat/almonds/walnuts/rice/wheat barley. Planted apples/oranges/grapes/olives lettuce/carrots/sugarcane/potatoes (Peru), cinnamon/parsley/coriander/oregano/pepper.
New Cooking Style • Mexican cooks combined these Old & New foods to create a rich, flavorful style of cooking neither Indian or Spanish: Mexican. • When Americans came they borrowed recipes. In Texas, a “Tex-Mex” combo was created: Chili
Spanish-style Architecture • Thick walls, red tile roofs, round arches, courtyards, typical Spanish architecture • Their mission homes were simple & ideally suited to the hot, dry climate of the Southwest. • Wood scarce in Southwest, Mexicans used adobe bricks as main building material. • Adobe: mixture of earth, grass, water shaped into bricks, baked in sun. They covered their adobe homes w/ red clay tiles: fireproof, kept wall from being washed away in heavy rain.
Newcomers adopt Spanish style • Americans adopted the styles b/c of advantages of adobe: stayed cooler in the summer & warmer in winter. • Adobe structures were easily constructed. • Americans built homes, courthouses, trading posts, post offices, etc. • Later builders adopt this style for concrete & stucco. 1930- nearly 1 millions Spanish-style homes in California.
Mexican Laws • Mexico outlawed slavery in 1829. • Slaves sometimes ran away to Mexico. • When Americans went west to mine, they had no laws so they used Mexican mining laws to develop a “law of mines” • Water law- too precious & rare in Southwest to be privately owned: belongs to everyone. • Community property: women get half the property in a divorce.
Mexicano Entertainment • Music, dance & fiestas (celebrations). • Music & dancing: Mexicano music greatly influenced country & western music in Southwest. Most importantly: corrido, or folk ballad. A corrido is a dramatic story sung to the accompaniment of guitars. • American settlers admired the Mexican dance, part of any fiesta. Favorites: jota, fandango, & la bamba.
Fiestas • Variety of religious festivals. One of the most important for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. • In San Antonio, Texas, Tejanos marked this day December 12 w/ a celebration @ cathedral & danced all night @ homes. • Today: El Cinco de Mayo (the Fifth of May), celebrates an important victory in Mexico’s fight for independence from French rule in 1862.
Rodeo • Millions of Americans find the Rodeo exciting. Rodeo roots go back to cattle roundups on Mexicano ranchos. • Mexican cowboys competed w/ each other in calf roping, bull riding, & bronco busting. • Americans soon joined in these contests & soon rodeos became annual events in western cities.